Large-scale nuclear war could kill 5 billion people: study

In a modern nuclear war, five billion people will die, but the impact of global starvation caused by pollution that blocks sunlight is likely to far surpass the losses caused by explosions, Bloomberg reported, citing a study.


Scientists at Rutgers University identified the impacts of six scenarios of potential nuclear warfare. The worst-case scenario, a large-scale conflict between the United States and Russia, would wipe out over half of mankind, according to the study published in the journal Nature Food.

The figures were based on estimates of the amount of soot that would enter the environment as a result of nuclear-related fires and explosions. The researchers used a weather prediction tool approved by the National Atmospheric Research Centre to assess crop yields in different country basis.

Even a very minor battle would have a devastating impact on the global food supply. The study found that a localized conflict between India and Pakistan would lead to a 7 percent decline in food yields over five years, whereas a conflict between the United States and Russia would lead to a reduction of 90% in three to four years.

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The researchers also assessed whether the reuse of crops currently used as animal feed or the reduction of food waste might mitigate losses at the start of a war, but determined that savings would be insignificant in larger disputes.

After Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, the possibility of a conflict between the United States and Russia was raised, which led to the release of this report. In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that there was a “grave” risk of nuclear conflict.

Alan Robock, the co-author of the paper and professor of climate science at Rutgers University’s Department of Environmental Sciences, said: The numbers tell us one thing. We must ensure that nuclear war never occurs.”

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