The threat of nuclear war has been embedded in global consciousness since the invention of the atomic bomb. Most fears are focused on blast radius and radioactive fallout; but the long-term effects of a nuclear conflict could be far more concerning.
According to new research from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility, a phenomenon known as “nuclear famine” is keeping experts up at night. The study estimates that more than 2 billion people are at risk.
Its author, Ira Helfand, says even a limited nuclear war could lead to “the end of civilization.”
Helfand theorizes it could occur in stages. The first is climate change. Existing literature shows that a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could drastically affect temperatures throughout the world. A 2007 study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics predicts that the soot created by such an event could reduce temps by 1.25°C per year for at least a half-decade.
This would wreak havoc on global crops.
The final stage of this catastrophe is starvation.
With his best guess, Helfand breaks the at-risk into three groups: (a) 870 million people already facing malnourishment, (b) grain-importing nations, and (c) the entire population of China. The first group gets more than 75% of its nutrition from grain, and a significant portion would not be able to afford higher prices.
Grain-importing nations, like South Korea, Japan, most of North Africa, and the Middle East, would be hard hit by trading partners who suddenly decide to stop exporting. Additionally, China’s 1.3 billion citizens would use up their rice and wheat reserves in a few months, and international hoarding may make open-market purchases impossible.
As Helfand has said: ”This is a disaster so massive in scale that really no preparation is possible. We must prevent this.”
With the vast majority of the world’s nations still unable to build the bomb, a blanket approach could work. ICAN pleads that the “very survival of humanity depends on nuclear weapons never being used.”
Fool.com via IPNNW Study