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ARTICLE ARCHIVE

Nuclear Winter

In 1983, at a landmark conference in Washington, DC, Carl Sagan and a team of fellow scientists told the world about nuclear winter - the shocking and devastating climatic effects of all-out nuclear war in which the world would be plunged into prolonged darkness eventually destroying life on earth. Today, new research by some of the same scientists has found that even a so-called limited nuclear exchange could result in the decimation of global agriculture and mass starvation.

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Saturday
May122012

"A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World"

Mushroom cloud rising above Hiroshima after U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, August 1945As described in an op-ed posted at CNN, "A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World," Jayantha Dhanapala and Ira Helfand report on the findings of a new PSR/IPPNW report, NUCLEAR FAMINE: A BILLION PEOPLE AT RISK.

Among the findings: even a limited nuclear war, as between Indian and Pakistan, involving less than half of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, would cause climate disruption that could set off a global famine; 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (see photo, left) exploded in a war between India and Pakistan would lead to the starvation of an estimated 1 billion people, one-sixth of the human race, over the following decade; each U.S. Trident nuclear submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study (the United States has 14 Tridents). 

Jayantha Dhanapala is a former ambassador to the United States from Sri Lanka, U.N. under-secretary general for disarmament and chairman of the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Ira Helfand is the past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and current North American vice president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Wednesday
Mar072012

Nuclear Darkness, Global Climate Change, & Nuclear Famine

This website, created by Steven Starr, a senior scientist for Physicians for Social Responsibility, is available in four languages: English, Russian, Hebrew, and Chinese. The site describes the deadly long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war that threaten continued human survival.  Virtually any nuclear war, even one fought with less than 1% of the deployed and operational nuclear arsenals, will cause catastrophic disruptions of global climate and massive destruction of Earth's protective ozone layer, resulting in global nuclear famine.  The site also includes a photo gallery from Hiroshima, Japan, the first city in the world to be annihilated by an atomic bomb in 1945; there is also a nuclear firestorm simulator, which allows you to type in any address or city, select a weapon size, and then illustrate the size of the resulting nuclear firestorm caused by the detonation of the weapon.

Sunday
Jul122009

Nuclear Winter still possible, new research finds

In 2007, a team of scientists published papers describing their research on nuclear winter. They looked not only at whether a nuclear winter could still happen as a result of a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States (the two countries still harbor most of the world's 26,000 remaining nuclear weapons) - it could - but also what the effects might be of a "limited" exchange. Using India and Pakistan as examples, they hypothesized an exchange of 50 Hiroshima-sized bombs each and modeled the resulting plumes of ash and smoke. The two studies - Atmospheric effects and societal consequences of regional scale nuclear conflicts and acts of individual nuclear terrorism by Brian Toon et al and Climatic consequences of regional nuclear conflicts by Alan Robock et al, found that such a conflict could devastate global agriculture, creating a nuclear winter-like effect.