A major study by Rutgers climate scientists that estimates crop production looked at the number of deaths from famine in the world if a nuclear war between Russia and the United States: more than 5 billion people.
“The data tells us one thing: we must prevent a nuclear war from happening,” he said. alan robockdistinguished professor of climate sciences in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University Rutgers and co-author of the study. Lili Xia, a research assistant professor in the Rutgers Department of Environmental Sciences, is the lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Food.
Scientists calculated how much blocking soot from the Sun would enter the atmosphere from firestorms ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. The researchers calculated soot dispersion from six war scenarios, five smaller wars between India and Pakistan and one major war between the United States and Russia, based on the size of each country’s nuclear arsenal.
These data were then entered into the Community Earth System Model, a climate forecasting tool supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The NCAR Community Land Model allowed estimating the productivity of the main crops (corn, rice, spring wheat and soybeans) country by country. The researchers also examined projected changes in livestock grazing and global marine fisheries.
Even in the smallest nuclear scenario, a localized war between India and Pakistan, global average caloric output fell 7 percent within five years of the conflict. In the largest war scenario ever tested, a full-scale nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia, the world’s average caloric output dropped by about 90 percent three to four years after the fighting.
“For example, the ozone layer would be destroyed by heating of the stratosphere, producing more ultraviolet radiation at the surface, and we need to understand that impact on food supplies,” he said.