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Could the world survive another nuclear conflict?

As militaries around the world develop more and more dangerous nuclear weapons, the entire world stands witness to writing the first chapters of “the world’s end”. Even the father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, came to regret discovering it and deem it the sin of physics. Moreover, the previous world war was proof of its horrendous crimes. However, the real question everyone should be considering is: can the world survive another nuclear war?

A long Nuclear winter

The term “nuclear winter” was first established during the 1980s when scientists began to realize the actual consequence of nuclear wars. The horrors of such war can’t only be confined to explosive blasts and radiation.

Burning cities will create rapid Firestorms which in return will create a huge plume of smoke, soot, and ash. Thus, such plums will not only rise into the upper atmosphere of the planet but they’ll also stay there. Thus, encircling the globe while shielding the Earth from the Sun’s light. Therefore, the planet’s temperature will cool down and the world will witness a nuclear winter.

Though in the past, scientists fear this consequence will arise due to nuclear conflict between two major player countries, they now believe that any limited nuclear war will also have such effects. Any form of nuclear war is bound to have drastic knock-on effects on global agriculture and dire consequences for life on Earth.

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The anatomy of a nuclear blast

Any blast from a modern nuclear weapon will create a vast amount of energy in a mere instance. Then the world will be left dealing with its devastating effects.

Moreover, both the blinding flash of light and radiation in the form of heat will release on earth temperatures as high as that of the Sun. Therefore, any kind of wood, plastics, fabrics and flammable liquids will ignite when witnessing such high temperatures.

Then the targeted country will face the blast wave traveling at a speed several times the speed of sound. The wave will create a wall of compressed unmovable superhot air which is strong enough to level all buildings within the blast zone. Thus, the blast will kill everyone in its path ranging for several kilometers.

Furthermore, within the next  20 to 30 minutes, a shroud of highly radioactive ash will start to fall from the sky. This deadly ash will cover both the blast site and the surrounding area reaching tens of kilometers. Any outdoor survivors will die when they contact this ash.

The entire area will be deemed uninhabitable for the next decades. Not to mention millions will die horribly if they were to witness such a travesty. 

After the initial blast

Though the initial, local effects of a nuclear conflict are absolutely devastating and horrible, what comes next is even worse. It would only take a few months for the whole world to suffer because of creating such a sin. The vast plume will enter the atmosphere and cover the entire earth within a rapid duration. Furthermore, the sky around the globe will darken which severely affects harvests globally, even in areas nowhere near the conflict zone.

Also, a nuclear war will cause the temperature to drop drastically. This climate will trigger widespread drought. Thus,  a worldwide famine and the death of tens of millions are the consequence of a nuclear winter.

Such events are by no means farfetched or a product of a mind’s imagination. In 1815, the volcanic eruption of Tambora in Indonesia ruined harvests locally and globally, reaching as far away as the US. the world dubbed the year the “Year Without Summer”. Back then a natural disaster caused the temperatures around the plant to drop drastically all while the resultant failed harvests triggered severe famine across all of Europe.

On the other hand, even though the Tambora eruption only lowered the global temperature by 0.7 degrees Celsius, it managed to cause all of the mentioned tragedies. However,  scientists estimate the temperature drop from a “limited” nuclear exchange to be anywhere between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius. Hence, such exchange will destroy life on earth as we know it.

In brief, even the smallest nuclear exchange will effectively doom humanity. Though some might believe that using such weapons is the only means to “win” any conflict, using them will ensure that there will be nothing left to “win”.

Also Read, Japan Demands American Nuclear Weapons After Ukraine War Disaster

References:

Gatopoulos, A. (2020, July 2). Project Force: Could the world survive a nuclear winter? Environment | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/project-force-world-survive-nuclear-winter-200622132211696.html

Rogers, A. (2019, October 2). Even a Small Nuclear War Could Trigger a Global Apocalypse. Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/even-a-small-nuclear-war-could-trigger-a-global-apocalypse/