The conflicts that seem to be re-igniting in more and more areas of the planet have brought back to the center the debate on the potential outcomes of an atomic war and a consequent "nuclear winter". But do we have a really precise idea of what would happen in different parts of the world?
A recent study published in Nature Food (I link it here) paints a terrible picture of what would happen if the US and Russia were to engage in large-scale atomic warfare. According to the report, billions of people would starve as a result of the conflict, and virtually the whole world would suffer the effects: only a small handful of countries would be spared from the devastation.
Atomic war, an apocalypse in 2 scenarios
Of the six analyzes included in the report, five include (with different assumptions) an atomic war scenario between India and Pakistan, the other includes a conflict between the US and Russia. For all analyzes, not only were the effects of any nuclear bombs exploded, but also the damage to the corn, rice, wheat and soy crops affected by the radiation.
For the estimation, the researchers used a tool from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) which allowed them to draw country-by-country forecasts, also evaluating changes in grazing and fishing.
The results of the analyzes? Terrifying
Even in the most "optimistic" scenario, so to speak, of an atomic war between India and Pakistan, the global average calorie production it would drop by 7% in just five years. It may not seem like much, but it would be the largest reduction in all of human history (at least that recorded by FAO). The worst-case scenario, however, needless to say, would be a large-scale atomic war between the US and Russia. In that case the caloric production it would collapse by 90% in three years.
In simple terms? Over 75% of humans and animals on the planet (those who survived the atomic bombs, I mean) would go hungry and would probably die within two years. 2 billion deaths from a conflict between India and Pakistan, 5 billion deaths from a US-Russia conflict.
In short, a global apocalypse: with some distinctions that, beyond the news, make us reflect.
This study provides some interesting conclusions, such as the reduced impact of warfare on fisheries. Again: the decline in yields would be more severe in mid- and high-latitude nations, including major exporting countries such as Russia and the United States.
In short, I show you one of the maps produced by this study.
The maps on the right pose different postwar scenarios, depending on whether or not resources are allocated to feed the herds. The countries in red would face an apocalyptic scenario, with a caloric intake lower than that necessary to maintain a basal metabolic rate. The yellow ones indicate areas where consumption would be so low that the inhabitants would lose weight and have almost no strength. The best are the green ones, a hue that identifies countries where even after an atomic war there would be enough food for their inhabitants to maintain physical activity.
A select club that includes some countries from Oceania, the Americas and the Middle East.
Collectively, the study provides a heartbreaking insight into what could happen in the event of a large-scale atomic war. Most of the world's population would be affected, with billions of people at risk of starvation. While some countries would fare better than others, no part of the world would be spared the devastation.
Do we really want this?