’Small’ Nuclear War Could Trigger Catastrophic Cooling
Even a relatively small regional nuclear war could trigger global cooling, damage the ozone layer and cause droughts for more than a decade, researchers say.
These findings should further spur the elimination of the more than 17,000 nuclear weapons that exist today, scientists added.
During the Cold War, a nuclear exchange between superpowers was feared for years. One potential consequence of such a global nuclear war was “nuclear winter,” wherein nuclear explosions sparked huge fires whose smoke, dust and ash blotted out the sun, resulting in a “twilight at noon” for weeks. Much of humanity might eventually die from the resulting crop failures and starvation.
Today, with the United States the only standing superpower, nuclear winter might seem a distant threat. Still, nuclear war remains a very real threat; for instance, between developing-world nuclear powers such as India and Pakistan.
To see what effects such a regional nuclear conflict might have on climate, scientists modeled a war between India and Pakistan involving 100 Hiroshima-level bombs, each packing the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT — just a small fraction of the world’s current nuclear arsenal. They simulated interactions within and between the atmosphere, ocean, land and sea ice components of the Earth’s climate system.
Scientists found the effects of such a war could be catastrophic.
“Most people would be surprised to know that even a very small regional nuclear war on the other side of the planet could disrupt global climate for at least a decade and wipe out the ozone layer for a decade,” study lead author Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, told Live Science.
The researchers predicted the resulting firestorms would kick up about 5.5 million tons (5 million metric tons) of black carbon high into the atmosphere. This ash would absorb incoming solar heat, cooling the surface below.
Maybe we could use a few nukes to counter global warming? We, the Russians and China all have desert regions that could be evacuated prior to bombing.
It’s to save the planet after all.