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Even a “limited” nuclear war would bring nuclear winter: could the world survive this?

Project Force: Could the world survive a nuclear winter?

The consequences of a nuclear war would extend far beyond the blast itself, killing millions of people across the globe.  Aljazeera, by Alex Gatopoulos, 2 Jul 2020  Firestorms triggered by burning cities create a huge plume of smoke, soot and ash. The plume rises above the clouds, into the upper atmosphere of the planet, where it will stay, encircling the globe, shielding the Earth from the Sun’s light, cooling the planet.

This is the scenario we could expect following a nuclear clash between nations.

The term nuclear winter was coined in the 1980s as scientists began to realise that the horrors of a nuclear war would not be confined to explosive blasts and radiation.

As climate prediction models become more powerful and sophisticated, scientists have been able to examine more closely what would happen in a nuclear conflict between two antagonists. In the past, most scenarios focused on potentially apocalyptic conflicts between Russia and the United States.

But new models now predict that even a very limited nuclear war would have drastic knock-on effects for global agriculture and dire consequences for life on Earth.

As climate prediction models become more powerful and sophisticated, scientists have been able to examine more closely what would happen in a nuclear conflict between two antagonists. In the past, most scenarios focused on potentially apocalyptic conflicts between Russia and the United States.

But new models now predict that even a very limited nuclear war would have drastic knock-on effects for global agriculture and dire consequences for life on Earth.

First, a blinding flash of light and radiation in the form of heat from the initial explosion would produce temperatures as high as that of the Sun. Wood, plastics, fabrics and flammable liquids would all ignite.

This would almost immediately be followed by the blast wave, moving at several times the speed of sound. A wall of compressed superhot air, the wave would gather up rubble and anything moveable, levelling all buildings within the blast zone and killing everyone in its path for several kilometres.

Within 20 to 30 minutes, a shroud of highly radioactive ash would begin to fall, blanketing both the blast site and the surrounding area, tens of kilometres downwind, and very quickly killing anyone caught outdoors who had somehow managed to survive the initial explosion.

For people outside the blast zone, the situation would also be grim.  All electronic equipment would cease to function as the electromagnetic pulse fried every electronic circuit. No phones, internet, computers or cars would work.

Hospitals would be quickly overwhelmed, with the vast majority of the population needing some kind of medical care. Food would disappear as logistical supply trains stopped working. What little there was would be contaminated by the radioactive fallout, along with any water.

In the case of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, for example, it is estimated that between 50 million and 125 million people would die.

What comes afterwards?

Those would be the initial, local effects of a nuclear conflict on a population. But the ensuing nuclear winter would take it to a whole new level.

The vast plumes of dark soot entering the upper atmosphere would spread not just regionally but right around the planet within months. The resulting darkening of the sky would severely affect harvests, even in areas nowhere near the conflict zone.

In one recent simulation, global harvests plummeted between 20 percent and 40 percent for at least a decade. Temperatures dropped dramatically as the climate shifted, triggering widespread drought, a worldwide famine and the death of tens of millions more people.

If these scenarios seem far-fetched, consider that the 1815 volcanic eruption of Tambora in Indonesia ruined harvests as far away as the US with 1816 known as the “Year Without Summer” as temperatures dropped sharply around the planet and the resultant failed harvests triggered severe famine across Europe.

The Tambora eruption lowered the global temperature by 0.7 degrees Celsius. The estimated temperature drop from a “limited” nuclear exchange is reckoned to be anywhere between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius.

The Pakistan vs India scenario

The latest studies show that there does not need to be a large-scale nuclear war to have this effect: A possible nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan is the scenario most of these studies have used as their prime example………

If these scenarios seem far-fetched, consider that the 1815 volcanic eruption of Tambora in Indonesia ruined harvests as far away as the US with 1816 known as the “Year Without Summer” as temperatures dropped sharply around the planet and the resultant failed harvests triggered severe famine across Europe.

The Tambora eruption lowered the global temperature by 0.7 degrees Celsius. The estimated temperature drop from a “limited” nuclear exchange is reckoned to be anywhere between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius.

…….. the greatest damage to the environment would be from the vast amount of superheated ash and soot that would rise from these destroyed cities, swept up by a nuclear firestorm into the upper atmosphere.

Darkness and starvation

The impact of even such a “limited” nuclear conflict would be devastating for the Earth as a whole. With global dimming, harvests would fail across the planet…….

In 2016, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated that 815 million people were food-insecure. They would all be put at far greater risk as food supplies rapidly dwindled in the aftermath of such a conflict.

Another major, cascading effect of even a partial nuclear winter would be the depletion of the ozone layer, allowing crops to be further damaged by unfiltered hard ultraviolet solar radiation.

Ozone would be destroyed by the heating of the upper atmosphere as the darker soot-laden layer of air absorbed more solar energy. The effect would last for more than five years, with 20 percent of the ozone lost across the planet and, in some places, as much as 70 percent, leading to significant destruction of plant, marine and animal life on Earth, and resulting in skin cancers, DNA mutation and eye damage in humans and animals alike.

This, coupled with the violent competition for shrinking resources, likely civil unrest due to mass starvation, rapidly shifting weather patterns and financial collapse, would disrupt all human life with no part of the planet left unscathed…….. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/project-force-world-survive-nuclear-winter-200622132211696.html

July 4, 2020 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, weapons and war

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