Scientific American has a cheery article on up their website right now, estimating the global impact of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. The result: sunlight is reduced, the planet cools, and the growing season shortens. Drought ensues. The ozone layer erodes. Global agriculture is decimated.
Aside from the way it will haunt your nightmares, it’s a very interesting article. It brings up come points that we all tend to forget. Regional nuclear war would affect the entire planet, not just the countries involved. If the US and Russia used their full strategic arsenals, that would be enough to keep temperatures below freezing in the summer for several consecutive years. As the article points out, “Even the warheads on one missile-carrying submarine could produce enough smoke to create a global environmental disaster.”
And, of course, the risk of nuclear attack isn’t over. Pakistan and India could well be starting a nuclear arms race between them. Russia still has nuclear weapons, and their government is increasingly xenophobic. Israel has nukes, and so does North Korea.
The article ends with this sobering quote “The combination of nuclear proliferation, political instability and urban demographics may constitute one of the greatest dangers to the stability of society since the dawn of humans. Only abolition of nuclear weapons will prevent a potential nightmare.” It’s a good goal, but how do we get there?