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Indo-Pak nuclear war could block sunlight, bring ice age, and kill two billion people
The two nations are on the brink of war, the world hopes it isn't nuclear.
In the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack, the tension between India and Pakistan has escalated exponentially. Both nuclear-armed nations have already carried out air strikes violating respective air spaces, leading to a war-like situation.
Though there's no nuclear war in the offing, Pakistani leaders have already indicated they are ready for all possibilities and has assembled the group that makes decisions on nuclear strikes. In such a scenario, it would be criminal to not take the potential consequences of such warfare into account.
If both the nations happen to unleash their nuclear prowess upon each other, it would result in a catastrophic global nuclear winter, killing at least two billion people. But, it doesn't stop there, the diseases that follow will kill hundreds of millions more.
A 2008 paper, dubbed "Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War," by Brian Toon, Alan Robock, and Rich Turco, concludes that a war between India and Pakistan using fifty nuclear warheads equivalent to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, would instantly claim lives of at least 45 million people. However, recent research claims that the final toll would be global and astronomically greater in terms of deaths.
A new study on the dire consequences of a nuclear conflict, by researcher Micheal Mills, shows the effects with the help of an Earth system model with all essential aspects such as ocean dynamics, atmospheric chemistry, and other interactive components, to determine the destruction a limited nuclear warfare would cause if both nations deployed fifty 15-kiloton weapons over major cities. And, that's less than half of what both India (110-130 warheads) and Pakistan (110-140 warheads) have in their arsenals.
Years without summers
The explosions are said to start hundreds of firestorms that suck air and spit huge columns of smoke that rise up to the stratosphere, resulting in a global spread out. If we go by the model's prediction, the smoke will block all sunlight making the temperature drop way below normal. This will be the coldest temperatures the Earth would witness since the ice age.
The icy weather will last for at least 25 years and the smoke will continue to float over stratosphere for years. This hypothetical nuclear war will also result in 20-50 percent elimination of the ozone layer above populated cities. What's important to note is that the researchers have predicted the loss on basis of weapons that are equally powerful as the Little Boy nuclear weapon that devastated Hiroshima. But that's no match to the weapons that exist today.
"The danger of nuclear winter has been under-understood - poorly understood - by both policymakers and the public. It has reached a point where we found that nuclear weapons are largely unusable because of the global impacts," Michael Mills, a researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Business Insider.
Nobody's the winner
Besides, the nuclear conflict would reduce the crop yields in the following decade, global precipitation will see a decline of 6 percent in the initial five years, while a 4.5 percent fall a decade later. Also, the monsoon in the Asian region will reduce by 20-80 percent, that means whichever nation wins this battle face an extreme shortage of food due to lack of rains.
The global famine after the war between India and Pakistan could lead to the death of around two billion people due to starvation. Millions more might lose their lives because of the diseases caused by nuclear radiations.
It's important to understand that the study only represents the effects of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan who are responsible for only 0.7 percent of the world's 14,500 nuclear warheads. But even a limited nuclear war among the two neighboring countries could lead a catastrophic nuclear winter.
The International Atomic Energy Agency undertakes regular inspections of civil nuclear facilities and audits the movement of nuclear materials through them. Most of the nations are a part of initiatives towards limiting the proliferation of nuclear warheads.
Since 1970, the international safeguards system has successfully prevented the diversion of fissile materials into weapons. It is also focusing to address undeclared nuclear activity.
We hope both India and Pakistan abide by these safeguards and reach a peaceful solution to the ongoing situation and prevent themselves from engaging in nuclear warfare.