A nuclear war between two countries would be enough to plunge the world into a “Little Ice Age”, scientists have warned.
Researchers found that even nations not involved in the dispute would suffer crop failures and plummeting temperatures, as the soot and smoke from nuclear firestorms thousands of miles away would block out the sun.
In the first month following nuclear detonation, average global temperatures would plunge by about 13F – a larger temperature change than in the last Ice Age, warned experts from Louisiana State and Rutgers universities.
As the planet became colder, sea ice would expand by more than six million square miles and 6ft deep in some basins, blocking major ports including Beijing’s Port of Tianjin, Copenhagen and St Petersburg.
The sea ice would spread into normally ice-free coastal regions, blocking shipping across the Northern Hemisphere – making it difficult to get food and supplies into some cities.
The sudden drop in light and ocean temperatures, especially from the Arctic to the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, would kill the marine algae which form the foundation marine food web – creating a famine in the ocean, effectively bringing the fishing industry to a halt.
‘We must do everything we can to avoid nuclear war’
“It doesn’t matter who is bombing whom, it can be India and Pakistan or Nato and Russia,” said Prof Cheryl Harrison, lead author from Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.
“Once the smoke is released into the upper atmosphere, it spreads globally and affects everyone.
“We must do everything we can to avoid nuclear war. The effects are too likely to be globally catastrophic.”
The study is the first to gauge the impact of today’s nuclear weapons and simulated the impact of a war between the US and Russia, where 4,400 100 kiloton weapons might be expected. It also looked at the effect of a war between Indian and Pakistan, where around 10 times fewer missiles would be expected.
Researchers estimated that even the smaller war would see between 11 billion and 103 billion pounds of smoke and soot ejected into the upper atmosphere, blocking out the light from the sun. A war between superpowers could see three times that level.
Ocean recovery would likely take decades at the surface and hundreds of years at depth, while changes to Arctic sea ice will likely last thousands of years and effectively be a “Nuclear Little Ice Age”.
‘The world simply cannot go down that path’
“Nuclear warfare results in dire consequences for everyone,” added Alan Robock, co-author and distinguished professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University.
“World leaders have used our studies previously as an impetus to end the nuclear arms race in the 1980s, and five years ago to pass a treaty in the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons. We hope that this new study will encourage more nations to ratify the ban treaty.
“A nuclear war would be a significant planetary tipping point. With Russia at war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin threatening to use nuclear weapons, these findings are a strong warning that the world simply cannot go down that path.”
NYC releases PSA for what to do in case of nuclear attack
Forget “duck and cover”; “get inside” and “stay tuned.”
If a nuclear blast befalls the Big Apple, New Yorkers should immediately seek shelter indoors and stay put.
That’s according to a new public service announcement the city released Monday outlining the three key steps New Yorkers should take in case Gotham gets nuked, either by a foreign power or a terrorist with a “dirty bomb”:
“As the threat landscape continues to evolve, it is important that New Yorkers know we are preparing for any imminent threats and are providing them with the resources they need to stay safe and informed,” said the city’s Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol in a statement on July 11.
While the likelihood of such an attack in or around the Five Boroughs is “very low,” according to the Emergency Management Department, the agency released a short video online to show that they have a plan in case it does.
The clip begins with deserted city streets and sirens howling in the distance, when a narrator walks into frame explaining the situation.
“So there’s been a nuclear attack. Don’t ask me how or why, just know that the big one has hit,” she says.
The matter-of-fact guide notes that you should get into a building and move to the center, away from the windows, adding that staying in a car is not a safe alternative.
The main concern from a nuclear event, should you survive it, is highly-radioactive fallout from the explosion that could dump lethal dust on an area for up to two weeks. Merely staying inside isn’t enough, even with windows or doors in tact; you’d have to get to the middle of the basement, or a shelter, to stay as protected from the fallout as possible.
Anyone caught outside during the blast must clean themselves off immediately, removing all outer clothes and bag them, to keep radioactive dust or ash away from their body.
Wash off the fallout gunk with soap or shampoo — assuming your shower still works at this point.
Then the waiting begins. The narrator tells viewers to follow media for more information, sign up for the city’s emergency alert system Notify NYC, and stay put until officials say it’s safe to reemerge.
“All right? You’ve got this,” she then signs off.
The video doesn’t address a nuclear blast survivor’s nutritional or medical needs — which figure to be potentially catastrophic after a nuclear event.
The public messaging echoes Cold War-era films that told Americans to “duck and cover” in case of a nuclear detonation.
The 1950s campaign by the Federal Civil Defense Administration famously showed people quickly dropping down and covering themselves in several everyday situations, such as kids in a school classroom, or a family having a leisurely picnic where the dad uses nothing but a newspaper to cover his head, all of which are set against an upbeat tune repeating the line “duck and cover.”
The federal government’s Department of Homeland Security now has a more detailed guide for what to in case of a nuclear blast that is similar to the city’s guidance.
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