- “We must prevent nuclear war from ever happening.”
- After a nuclear war, about 75% of the world’s population will starve to death.
- “No one has done this calculation before.”
After a nuclear war between the US and Russia, 5 billion people around the world – 75% of the world’s population – will die of hunger and starvation, a new study says.
A nuclear explosion would cause massive fires and inject soot into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight from reaching the surface and limiting food production, the study said.
“A large percentage of people will starve,” said Rutgers University climate scientist Lily Xia, who led the research. Nature.com. “It’s really bad.”
Based on past research, scientists worked to calculate how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms ignited by nuclear explosions.
“Decreased light, global cooling, and possible trade restrictions after a nuclear war would spell a global disaster for food security,” the study said.
‘We must prevent nuclear war’
“The data tell us one thing: We must prevent nuclear war from ever happening,” said Alan Robock, a professor of climate science at Rutgers University and co-author of the study.
Detonation of any nuclear weapon producing more than 5 teragrams (5 trillion grams) of fallout would likely cause widespread food shortages in almost all countries, the study said.
“The death toll under extreme circumstances would be the combined population of the United States, Europe, the Russian Federation and allied nations,” Deepak K Ray told Newsweek magazine.
First research of its kind
According to the study authors, this research is the first of its kind.
“No one has done this calculation before,” Robock told HealthDay News. “Nobody tried to count the number of people who died.”
The study authors estimate that famine deaths from a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could be in the region of 2.5 billion within two years of the start of the war; For a nuclear conflict between the US and Russia, famine-related deaths could reach 5 billion.
According to Nature.com, nuclear war may seem less of a threat than during the Cold War, but there are still nine countries with more than 12,000 nuclear weapons.
“If nuclear weapons exist, they can be used, and the world has come close to nuclear war many times,” Roebuck said. “The only long-term solution is to ban nuclear weapons.”
The Russia-Ukraine war has escalated nuclear tensions between the US and Russia in recent months. The threat of nuclear war seems especially relevant today as Ukraine’s war against Russia disrupts the global food supply, according to the journal Nature, underscoring the far-reaching consequences of the regional conflict.
The study was published in the British journal Nature Food.