How Nuclear Winter Halts Global Plant Growth, Causes Crop Failure & Mass Starvation

How a Limited Nuclear War (Pakistan v. India) Would Cause Global Food Shortages and Mass Starvation // Oct 18, 2019

Since the Cold War between the world’s major superpowers ended, people have become very complacent about the threats of nuclear war. A new research paper shatters this illusion by showing that even a relatively small and limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan, apart from killing more people in those countries (50-125 million) in less than one week than all World War II fatalities, would block 20 to 35% of surface sunlight and cool the surface 2C to 5C causing global crop failures; thus causing mass starvation and additional worldwide mayhem.


Ref:  India-Pakistan nuclear war could kill millions and threaten global starvation:  A study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Rutgers University examines how such a hypothetical future conflict would have consequences rippling across the globe. Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025.

Ref2:  Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, by Gwynne Dyer.
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How “Nuclear Winter” Halts Global Plant Growth Causing Crop Failure and Worldwide Mass Starvation // Oct 18, 2019

The unthinkable “nuclear winter” scenario occurs when detonations of many nuclear bombs over cities create intense fireballs which loft black carbon high into the stratosphere (upper atmosphere), blocking the Sun and thus halting global plant growth thus causing mass starvation. A Pakistan – India nuclear war (or US – Russia nuclear war) would:

  • block surface sunlight 20-35% (75%),
  • cool global surfaces 2-5C (10C),
  • reduce precipitation 15-30% (60%),
  • reduce Net Primary Productivity 15-30% (100%) on land;
  • 5-15% (50%) in the oceans,
  • and take 10-15 years to recover.

Ref:  To better grasp nuclear winter, scientists study wildfire cloud


A giant cloud from 2017 Canadian fires lingered in the atmosphere for a year, showing scientists how a cloud from a nuclear bomb would behave‘.
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About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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