Will there be enough food if the “nuclear winter” comes after the nuclear war?

For decades, researchers simulated the consequences of a nuclear conflict. One of the most destructive global consequences of the nuclear war is the possibility of a long climate cooling known as the “nuclear winter”.

“In the case of a nuclear war, bombs aimed at cities and industrial areas will cause fiery storms, throwing a large number of soot into the upper layers of the atmosphere, which will spread around the world and quickly cool the planet [blocking the sun’s rays],” the researchers explain in a new job. “A suspension from the ashes will cause ten -year climate violations of the Earth, which will affect the production systems of food on land and in the oceans”.

Although the term “nuclear winter” was invented in the 1980s, this idea is as old as nuclear weapons. Back in 1947, Fantast writer Paul Anderson in his cult post-apocalyptic story “Children of Tomorrow” reflected on the prospect of a global nuclear war, which would provoke a new ice age.

How the world nuclear war will end

Recently, when the climate modeling has become more sophisticated and detailed, researchers have learned to launch more complex models to study what influence possible nuclear winter on environmental conditions will exert around the world. The new study offers the most detailed system today, illustrating how nuclear war can affect global food supplies.

Six scenarios of nuclear war were simulated in the work, each of which leads to different levels of soot in the stratosphere. Five scenarios modeled the various scales of the nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, and the sixth model modeled the global nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

Each model assessed the impact on the climate of soot release into the atmosphere. Then these climatic changes were taken into account in agricultural models designed to calculate the reduction of production of basic agricultural crops, such as wheat, rice and corn. Ultimately, the study has translated these contractions of the crop into the total losses of calories produced, so you can evaluate how many people hypothetically die from hunger for months or years after a nuclear war.

The scenario of the worst case, simulated in the study, considered the emission effect of 150 million metric tons of soot into the stratosphere after a week of global nuclear conflict. While about 360 million direct deaths can occur directly as a result of the explosion of nuclear warheads, the climatic consequences of using this weapon will lead to almost 90% of the global production of calories. According to modeling, two years after a nuclear conflict, about five billion people around the world will die of hunger.

“Although the probability of such a war is small, the global cooling of 14.8 ° C (t.e. Actual ice age) will occur within one to two years after nuclear explosions, ”explained Dipak Ray, an ecologist, commenting on the results of modeling. “Even if half of the feed for livestock will be used as food for people, and humanity, in addition, will begin to cook food from food waste, the lack of calories in the diet will be about 74%”.

Will everything be starving the same?

However, modeling shows that not all countries will face the same experience in the lack of food security after a nuclear conflict. The model predicts that in the most extreme nuclear scenario, all international food trade will cease, and each country will rely on its own ability to produce calories for its population.

The only country that is apparently most protected from a global catastrophe predicted in modeling is Australia. According to researchers, wheat production in Australia largely does not depend on climatic changes associated with nuclear energy, which allows the country to effectively produce calories to maintain its population. Neighboring New Zealand was also modeled as a relatively safe in the most extreme modeled scenario.

Of course, scientists note that there is no question of the “absolute protection” of these countries. In addition, researchers suggest that countries with constant food supplies, such as Australia and New Zealand, will probably experience a significant influx of refugees from neighboring Asian countries that are faced with hunger.

Scientists standing behind a new study are well aware of the restrictions on such modeling. Scenarios on the basis of which the model was compiled, focused exclusively on the influence of nuclear winter on the current production of calorie crops. Although this calorie deficit cannot be compensated by livestock or increases due to water agriculture, researchers still suggest the possibility of introducing alternative food sources, such as the transition to the production of food products requiring a minimum amount of sunlight or in general of its absence of its absence.

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