Back to the Blog

It (could be) The End of the World as We Know It, and It’s Far From Fine

Naveen Sultan about 3 months ago


It (could be) The End of the World as We Know It, and It's Far From Fine

By Amy Beeman

The world is a scary place. Though it's often easy to forget in our day to day lives, and better for our general well-being not to dwell on it, sometimes a well-meaning organization puts out a study that blows all of our blissful ignorance to smithereens. This time, it is the new one about the global effects of a limited nuclear war.

According to a Ira Helfland, Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and former President of its U.S affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility, even a limited nuclear war, such one between India and Pakistan would have far reaching global consequences for at least a decade after the bombs were detonated. The study, titled Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk? theorizes how the blasts would, of course, kill millions of people at which the bombs were aimed, but in the decade beyond that put billions more at risk, likely to die from famine and famine related issues, such as disease and conflicts over food.

Kind of sounds like dying in the initial blast may be the way to go. Not to make light of such a serious subject, but how else does one go on in life with such a dire possibility always looming?

The study claims that following the blasts, about 6.6 million metric tons of black carbon aerosol particles would rise into the upper troposphere, causing global cooling and a decline in global precipitation. All this would wreak havoc on crucial crops- rice, wheat, soybean, and corn, causing food shortages and higher food prices, which is pretty much is a death sentence for the world's poor, and certainly for the already malnourished, which number 842 million worldwide, according to the World Food Programme. The IPPNW study says even a 10% decrease in the food supply of a malnourished person would cause starvation.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences said in a study of their own on the effects of a nuclear war that, "The primary mechanisms for human fatalities would likely not be from blast effects, not from thermal radiation burns, and not from ionizing radiation, but, rather from mass starvation."

Pretty bleak stuff.

It is difficult to imagine that anyone, or any groups in power would actually unleash such a horrible thing on humanity (not to mention animals and all of nature), but perhaps this would be the ultimate in suicide bombing. Surely there are some folks out there that are so hateful they would use these weapons if given the chance.

Possibly more frightening though, is the prospect of accidental detonation, which some consider more of an eventual probability.

As Helfland pointed out in a recent interview with Rob Lorei on Radioactivity, the fact that these weapons exist, and there are so many of them (about 720,000 nuclear weapons on the planet), there is always the chance of a big Oopsie, and of course that's just unacceptable. Not to mention the nuclear weapons of today are far stronger than those used in Hiroshima in 1945. Though a large number of weapons exist, they are mostly in hands of only a few countries. The legally recognized nuclear weapons states are The United States, The United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, and the rogue nuclear states include Pakistan, India and Israel. Of course North Korea and Iran are tinkering away, but we really don't have good or complete information about those guys. Still, I think we're all in agreement that we don't trust them...

The only way to truly avoid nuclear catastrophe, says Helfland, is to irradicate all nuclear weapons. Groups like the IPPNW are working to abolish these instruments of death, but it's hard to imagine countries like the U.S and Russia dismantling their bombs, because with those nuclear warheads comes power. They can't get rid of theirs until we know North Korea or Iran don't have some diabolical agenda. It's like a scene from a Tarantino movie in which everyone is pointing a gun at eachother, finger on trigger, suspended in time until someone makes the first move. Those usually don't end well.

Though daunting, this study lends a little credibility to all those canned food horders and bomb shelter stockers. Perhaps they will perservere and procreate, and be the saviours of humanity. Though ten years of Chef-Boy-R-Dee and Dinty Moore Beef Stew may be its own kind of death sentence.

comments powered by Disqus