A Limited Nuclear War will Kill Billions of People
For those who believe that a limited nuclear war in Asia or the Middle East will not affect Americans or people of other countries on the other side of the planet, you’re in for a surprise. Billions will die.
Most of us have figured that a limited nuclear war, say in Asia or the Middle East perhaps will kill millions of people in the cities that are bombed. This is what the generals and the politicians have told us.
What we didn’t know is that the long-term environmental effects of a limited nuclear war will likely kill off billions of people around the world.
Thousands of nuclear warheads
Currently, there are thousands of nuclear weapons locked and loaded around the world. There are close to 15,000 nuclear weapons according to a 2018 Federation of American Scientists report.
According to their estimates:
• Russia has about 6,600 nuclear weapons, with 1,600 deployed
• The United States has about 6,450 weapons, with 1,600 deployed
• France has about 300 total, with 280 deployed weapons
• China has at least 270 warheads
• The United Kingdom has about 215 weapons, with 120 deployed
• Pakistan has between 130 and 140 weapons
• India has between 120 and 130 weapons
• Israel has about 80 verified weapons. Due to secrecy, some have estimated that Israel may have as many as 300.
• North Korea has at somewhere between 10 and 20 weapons – maybe more now.
To their credit, a number of countries with weapons have retired the weapons and may possibly be in the process of dismantling them. This doesn’t mean they cannot be deployed in the event of a war or threat.
Note these modern nuclear weapons are much stronger than the ones dropped in Japan during World War II. For example, the Tsar Bomba, detonated by the Soviet Union in 1961 was 50 megatons. Such a weapon is about 3,333 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima that killed up to 75,000 people immediately and 200,000 from radiation poisoning by 1950.
Today’s Russian Tsar Bomba is 100 megatons.
Furthermore, most of the nuclear weapons deployed today are hydrogen bombs. Today, Russia, the U.S., France, the U.K., China and India have all successfully tested a hydrogen bombs – also known as thermonuclear weapons. These are now common warheads launched from silos, submarines, ships and other devices.
Modern nuclear weapon blast deaths
The first casualties from today’s nuclear weapons would be catastrophically worse than the Japanese blasts. Not only are the bombs stronger. Each country also has so many bombs that there is a greater likelihood of a significant proportion being launched in the case of war in order to annihilate the opposition and prevent them from launching more.
For example, if just one 100 megaton weapon was detonated in New York, approximately 8 million people would die and about 6.6 million people would be injured.
The blast radius would destroy just about everything within about a mile. Within three miles commercial buildings and equipment would be heavily damaged. Fires would engulf neighborhoods within 6 miles of the blast center. Even clothing would burst into flames. Fires could possibly spread a few more miles from the center of the blast.
This is one bomb.
Limited nuclear war in Asia
Now if India and Pakistan went at it and started launching weapons at each other as they’ve been threatening to do, we’d have another story. Up to 44 million people would die from the blasts according to research presented by professors from the University of Colorado, Rutgers University and UCLA.
This is only for 50 weapons launched between India and Pakistan of 15 kilotons each. That is out of the more than 200 weapons held between the two states.
Similar consequences would occur in limited nuclear wars in the Middle East. With Israel’s weapon cache, many millions of people would die from the direct blasts throughout the Middle East.
Longer range atmospheric consequences
Unfortunately, the numbers above are what the military generals around the world utilize as they play out the consequences of a limited nuclear war. They figure that they and their governments will be safely quarantined in their bunkers while millions of people die from the blasts.
What they don’t realize is that there will be a major atmospheric consequence of the soot created by the nuclear blasts. This is according to researchers who have analyzed the results of major test blasts around the world.
For example, the 50-weapons limited war between India and Pakistan would also release an astounding 6.6 teragrams (Tg – a teragram is a trillion grams – or about 1,000 metric tons) amount of soot into the atmosphere according to the researchers. Even a modest 5 Tg of soot would produce a little ice age result that would result in diminished rainfall around the world. This would result in shortages of corn and other crops in the United States and elsewhere.
The smoke and haze will spread around the world within weeks of such a war. Between 10 and 40 percent of U.S. food crops will be lost according to the research.
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War estimates that between 1 and 2 billion people will die from starvation as a result of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
The 5 Tg soot cloud would rise up into the stratosphere and heat the stratosphere by 30 degrees Celsius for a period of up to 10 years. Ozone columns would drop by 20 percent around the world and between 25 and 45 percent in the tropics and up to 70 percent at high altitudes.
The limited nuclear war would dramatically shorten the growing season for crops, as well as cause starvation around the world.
A modest 75 teragrams of soot from a larger limited war would result in a loss of 40% of rainfall in Asia and 25% rainfall reduction globally. This would lead to massive starvation among many in the world. The loss of rice and corn crops would kill at least 10 percent of the world’s population, and up to several billion people according to the research.
This is assuming larger weapons and a few more countries involved.
And this is besides of the growing spread of radiation that is continuing to produce latent radiation damage to our health and to many species of plants.
No, we will not be too far away to be affected by a limited nuclear war somewhere else in the world. We will suffer along with billions of others.
Let’s get behind banning nuclear weapons around the world. It is the only logical choice if we want humanity to survive.