Any minor nuclear war outbreak between India and Pakistan would possibly bring a global famine, killing a quarter of the world’s population or even end the human civilization, a study warned on Tuesday.
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and its U.S. affiliate Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) concluded in a recent report that over two billion of the world’ people would be at risk if any nuclear conflict ever happened on the planet. The report “Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk” highlighted that even a limited nuclear exchange would be capable of wreaking havoc and destroying the Earth’s environment, proving fatal for the human survival.
“A nuclear war using only a fraction of existing arsenals would produce massive casualties on a global scale—far more than we had previously believed,” said Ira Helfand, the report’s author and IPPNW co-president in a press release.
According to the report, a nuclear war using as few as 100 weapons anywhere in the world would disrupt the global climate and agricultural production so severely that the lives of more than two billion people would be in jeopardy.
Helfand said that his study encompassed India and Pakistan as the two nuclear-armed states have fought three full-fledged wars since 1947. However, he made it clear that a similar fashioned catastrophe would follow any limited nuclear war, or even by the use of a small number of the nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia.
The report said that China, the world’s most populous country, would possibly face severe food insecurity as a consequence of the war, making the total number of people threatened by nuclear-war induced famine to be well over two billion.
The study marked that the black carbon aerosol particles emitted into the atmosphere by a South Asian nuclear war would reduce the U.S. corn and soybean production by around 10 percent, and China’s rice production by an average of 21 percent.
“The Chinese winter wheat production would fall 50 percent in the first year and, averaged over the entire decade after the war, would be 31 percent below baseline,” the report gave an update on the severe effects on China’s wheat production.
The study, originally written by Helfand in 2012, is based upon research published by climate scientists who have assessed the impact of nuclear explosions on the Earth’s atmosphere and other ecosystems.
The report strikes right in time as the world has begun to rethink about the devastating impacts of nuclear weapons. In October this year, 125 nations issued a joint statement at the United Nations calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In February next year, more than 100 nations are scheduled to convene in Mexico to discuss the humanitarian threats posed by nuclear war.
Helfand said that it is impossible to estimate the exact impact of any nuclear war; he warned that policymakers in nuclear powers are almost overlooking the idea of a nuclear famine and should look into it more thoroughly. However, he said, the ultimate solution is nothing but disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons.
“Countries around the world—those who are nuclear-armed and those who are not—must work together to eliminate the threat and consequences of nuclear war,” he said. “In order to eliminate this threat, we must eliminate nuclear weapons.”