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Humans are not prepared for famine caused by nuclear wars

Humans are not prepared for famine caused by nuclear wars

Humans are not prepared for famine caused by nuclear wars according to the findings of a recent study. A global famine might result from even a relatively minor battle in which two nations use nuclear weapons against each other.


The soot produced by the burning of cities would encircle the globe. This would cause the planet to cool down since the soot would reflect sunlight back into space. This, in turn, would lead to crop failures all across the world. However, in the worst case scenario, could put five billion people on the verge of starvation.

Lili Xia, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey
Lili Xia, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey

According to Lili Xia, who was in charge of the research and led it, “a large percentage of the population will be famished.”

The study was published on August 15 in Nature Food1. It is the most recent iteration of a thought experiment about the worldwide repercussions of nuclear warfare. It seems especially important because Russia’s war with Ukraine has caused problems with food supplies around the world. This shows how far-reaching the effects of a regional conflict can be.

Humans are not prepared for famine caused by nuclear wars; case studies- both large and small.

A nuclear war has a wide variety of potentially fatal repercussions. This includes the immediate killing of humans in atomic explosions as well as the long-term effects of radiation. Also, include other forms of environmental contamination.

Xia and her coworkers wanted to investigate the effects of the war that could be felt by people in other parts of the world. So they focused their attention on the far-reaching repercussions of the conflict.

They modeled how the temperature would vary in different regions of the world after a nuclear war. Also, how crops and fisheries would react to those climate changes.

The researchers examined six potential outcomes of a battle. Each of which would release a unique quantity of soot into the air and cause a reduction in surface temperatures. This, ranges from minus 1 degree Celsius to plus 16 degrees Celsius. The consequences might be felt for at least ten years after the event.

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan, possibly sparked over the contentious region of Kashmir, could potentially release between 5 million and 47 million tonnes of soot into the atmosphere. The exact amount would depend on the number of warheads that were used. It also depends on the number of cities that were destroyed.

It is possible that 150 million tons of soot will be produced if the United States and Russia engage in a full-scale nuclear war. The haze that encircled the whole planet would remain for years until it finally lifted and the skies cleared.

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Statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The team led by Xia analyzed, with the use of statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This is about how a decrease in crop yields and fishing harvests during a nuclear war would impact the total quantity of calories that humans would be able to consume.

The researchers investigated a variety of possibilities. This includes whether or not people continued to keep animals. Also, whether or not they diverted some or all of the crops that were intended for livestock to be consumed by humans instead.


The research made the assumption that there would be some repurposing of biofuel crops for human consumption. Also, that individuals would reduce their levels of food waste or remove it altogether. It was also anticipated that international trade would come to a halt if countries decided to cease exporting food. They would instead focus on feeding the people living within their own borders.

Xia points out that the study makes a number of assumptions and oversimplifies the manner in which the intricate global food system will react to the effects of a nuclear conflict.

However, the results are startling. Even in the most minimal war scenario. This includes a fight between India and Pakistan that results in 5 million tonnes of soot. There is a possibility that the production of calories throughout the entire world would decrease by seven percent. This will happen in the first five years following the war.

The worldwide average number of calories would decline by up to half. This would happen if 47 million tons of soot were produced. Depending on the severity of the conflict, calorie output drops by up to 90%. This would be three to four years after a war between the United States and Russia.

‘How about Australia?’

Mid-to high-latitude nations, which already have a short growing season for crops and which would suffer more severely after a nuclear war than tropical regions. These would be the ones that are most likely to be harmed by it.

For example, the United Kingdom would experience a more dramatic decrease in the amount of food that is readily available. These are compared to a nation like India, which is located at a lower latitude.

But France, which is a significant exporter of food, would do reasonably well.  That is, at least in the scenarios with lower emissions. This is because if trade were to be stopped, there would be more food available for the French people to eat in France.

Australia is another nation that has been mostly unaffected. In the aftermath of a nuclear war, Australia would be cut off from international trade. They would mostly subsist on wheat for food. And wheat would do reasonably well to grow in the lower environment that would be caused by soot in the atmosphere.


Even in the most catastrophic conflict scenarios, Australia is depicted as an unblemished green on the map that the researchers created. It shows significant sections of the planet colored red to represent famine. “The very first time I showed my kid the map, the very first thing he said was, ‘Let’s go to Australia,'” Xia explains.

Global food implications of a localized nuclear war

According to Deepak Ray, a researcher on food security at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul, the study is a helpful start towards understanding the global food implications of a localized nuclear war. According to him, though, further effort is required to correctly model the complicated mix of ways in which crops are grown across the world.

For example, the research took into account national agricultural production data. In reality, though, things are much more complicated. This is because different crops are grown in different parts of a country for different reasons.

The risk of nuclear conflict may appear to be lower than it was during the height of the cold war. However, there are still nine countries that possess a combined total of more than 12,000 nuclear bombs. If nations had a more complete understanding of the probable repercussions of nuclear war, they could make a more accurate risk assessment.

Ray explains, “It is a very unlikely occurrence, but if it does take place. It will have an impact on everyone.” “This is potentially harmful stuff.”

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