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Indo-Pak N-war: over 125 m deaths, global starvation, climate change, says US study

Indo-Pak N-war: over 125 m deaths, global starvation, climate change, says US study

  • Around 125 million people may die
  • Global starvation may set in
  • Climate change may occur

New Delhi: Amid Pakistan virtually threatening a nuclear war against India, an American study has warned that nearly 125 million people are likely to die, followed by global mass starvation and climate change, if India and Pakistan engaged in a nuclear war.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at a war scenario that may occur between India and Pakistan in 2025. “Such a war would threaten not only the locations where bombs might be targeted but the entire world,” according to co-author Alan Robock of Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the US.

The threatened Earth: How the planet will look like from outer space if a nuclear war breaks out.

The two countries, which have fought several wars over Kashmir, may have a combined count of 400 to 500 nuclear weapons by 2025, the study noted.

It said the exploding nuclear weapons could release 16 to 36 million tons of tiny black carbon particles in smoke which could rise to the upper atmosphere and spread around the world within weeks. The soot would absorb solar radiation, and heat up the air, enhancing the smoke’s swift rise.

As a result, the sunlight reaching the planet would decline by 20 to 35 per cent, causing its surface to cool by 2 to 5 degrees Celsius. Rainfall across the globe may also reduce by 15 to 30 per cent, which could have larger regional impacts.

The study found that vegetation growth would decline globally by 15 to 30 per cent on land, and the oceans could see a productivity decline by 5 to 15 per cent.

Recovery from these impacts would take more than 10 years since the smoke would linger in the upper atmosphere. “Nine countries have nuclear weapons, but Pakistan and India are the only ones rapidly increasing their arsenals,” Robock noted.

Continuing unrest between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, particularly over Kashmir, made it important to understand the consequences of a nuclear war, he said.

The combined nuclear weapons of the two countries in the year 2025 could range from 15 kilotons in explosive power, the same size as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the US in 1945, to a few hundred kilotons.

The study estimated that 50 to 125 million people could die from the direct effects, with additional deaths from mass starvation also possible globally.

“Nuclear weapons cannot be used in any rational scenario but could be used by accident or as a result of hacking, panic or deranged world leaders,” Robock said.

The only way to prevent accidental usage of nuclear weapons was to eliminate them, he added.


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