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RKDmitriyev

Nuclear Wars and Aftermath

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This forum seems to be sorely lacking in nuclear war-related threads, so I'm going to start one.

How much of humanity could survive a nuclear conflict? I've been doing some research, and scientists and military strategists don't seem to have come to an agreement. Depending on the size of the conflict, blast effects, gamma rays, radioactive isotopes, and radioactive dust could kill billions of people and cause first-world society to collapse.

However, "nuclear winter" may be the most dangerous effect of nuclear war. Recent research from scientists Alan Robock and Owen Toon suggests that even a regional nuclear war, such as one between India and Pakistan, could wreak havoc worldwide.

According to this research, the explosions would stoke massive firestorms, pumping 5 million tons of smoke into the atmosphere. The soot would absorb much sunlight over the entire world. Average global temperatures would drop by about 1.25*C, crops would fail, and famine and starvation would ensue. The climate might not recover for a decade or more.

All in all, according to Toon and Robock's January 2010 Scientific American article,

"1 billion people worldwide with marginal food supplies today could die of starvation because of ensuing agricultural collapse." (emphasis in original)

To support their theory, they cite analogies from volcanic eruptions such as 1815's Tambora eruption, which resulted in the "Year without a Summer." Freak frosts caused crop failures all over the world. Imagine what would happen if summer did not occur for 10 years.

This research, published in Science magazine (link) and other reputable scientific journals, does not seem to have been challenged. On the other hand, interest in nuclear war is not what it was during the Cold War, when the most research was done on this topic. Cynics will sense a political motive behind Robock & Toon's research, since they are using it to promote total nuclear disarmament.

Thoughts?

EDIT: I originally wrote that the nuclear exchange would purportedly cause "....a shroud of 5 million tons of dust and smoke." However, the research by Robock et al focuses almost exclusively on smoke effects. Nuclear war would purportedly create massive firestorms in megacities such as the population centers of India and Pakistan. It is the smoke from these fires that would cause nuclear winter effects.

Edited by RKDmitriyev

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Enormous cockroaches that glow in the dark!

And murlocs emerging from nuclear shelters in a hundred years time to steal our women.

And Triffids.

I tend to think on a more serious note of the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That it won't take anything like as long as the nightmare scenario's predict to recover.

Crops will still grow, the sites of our cities will still be natural choices for human colonisation.

Edited by Baff1

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Yeah Baff, but remember that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were really small compared to what we have today

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Wow, I didn´t know that there were so many of them. But those were mainly underground or underwater tests, no dust kicked up.

America really likes to blow shit up!

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No headcrabs, no super mutants, no bottle caps.

Oh, and no super dust clouds blocking the sun for a thousand years.

Are you telling me Gojira was fake?

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Great link, thanks for sharing. Reminds me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.:D

Wow, I didn´t know that there were so many of them. But those were mainly underground or underwater tests, no dust kicked up.

Yeah, that. Or high-atmospheric tests. Furthermore, the big culprit in "nuclear winter" would be the smoke and soot from burning cities. Article by Robock:

http://www.eoearth.org/article/Nuclear_winter

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Yes, it is safe to say that the USA is the most nuked nation in the world!

Maybe thats why the USA citizens have such a low lifespan exspectation compared to other industrialized northern hemisphere nations.

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But those were mainly underground or underwater tests, no dust kicked up.
Yeah, that. Or high-atmospheric tests.

There have been over 500 atmospheric nuclear detonations in the world, only 21 of them being high-altitude. The (fairly sensationalist) science article talked about 100 small nuclear bombs being enough for catastrophic results for all of humanity.

Edited by Celery

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I'm not saying a hundred bombs would make nuclear winter or not. But 500 bombs spread out over the course of 60 years, compared to 100 over the course of a day or two, is a big difference.

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I'm not saying a hundred bombs would make nuclear winter or not. But 500 bombs spread out over the course of 60 years, compared to 100 over the course of a day or two, is a big difference.

Atmospheric tests were stopped by everyone except China and France in 1963. The majority of them were conducted within a span of 7 years starting from 1956 with multiple series of consecutive detonations on land.

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This topic always reminds me of Threads, a fairly depressing BBC documentary style-movie. Its free to watch on that link, quality is rather low though.

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This topic always reminds me of Threads, a fairly depressing BBC documentary style-movie. Its free to watch on that link, quality is rather low though.

I was about to recommend threads as well!

'The Day After' is a fairly good movie too, starring Donald Sutherland. One scene depicts him trying to cover his face during a blast, and he can see right through his hands!

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Brother in the Land is a good/depressing book for young adults. That gave me the shivers for a while.

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There have been over 500 atmospheric nuclear detonations in the world, only 21 of them being high-altitude. The (fairly sensationalist) science article talked about 100 small nuclear bombs being enough for catastrophic results for all of humanity.

Okay, but how many of those nukes detonated over large cities? Two, right?

The smoke from burning cities is what would cause nuclear winter, according to most versions of the theory. (My original post was inaccurate about this, btw, so I've edited it).

Mind you, I'm not taking sides here. I, too, am somewhat suspicious of the new "nuclear winter" research. Political motivation is possible.

Furthermore, a group of scientists including Carl Sagan popularized a previous incarnation of the "nuclear winter" theory back in the 80s. In 1991 they predicted that the massive smoke emissions from the Kuwaiti oil fires would cause lasting global climate damage.

They didn't. This was quite an embarrassment for the theory, and it seems to have dropped off the radar until Robock et al revived it with new calculations in 2006.

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Yes, it is safe to say that the USA is the most nuked nation in the world!

Maybe thats why the USA citizens have such a low lifespan exspectation compared to other industrialized northern hemisphere nations.

Nevermind jokes, Kazakhstan is actually literally radioactive.

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Yeah I'm not sold on the whole "Nuclear Winter" hypothesis.

Have not looked at the numbers I would say that the total amount of particulate pushed into the air, even from 100 freshly vaporised cities would be insignificant in terms of the total volume of air in the troposphere (where most of the particulate from a nuclear blast would disperse)

Even with high-yield warheads (1-10 MT range) "citykillers" (Hiroshima was about 0.012MT) there would only be fairly localized destruction when comparing the size of cities to the size of whole countries and continents.

Furthermore these calculations may or may not assume that all weapons utilise a ground-burst attack method (which maximises radioactive fallout). In a conventional nuclear exchange warheads would be employed in a number is different methods including low level airburst (to maximise devastation) to exo-atmospheric bursts (nukes in space).

In short, I reckon the amount of carbon we pump into the atmoshpere each year burning fossil fuels is probably doing more damage than having the odd nuclear war here and there. I think humanity will probably die out in a long lingering over-population-and-pollution-caused famine rather than in a blinding nuclear flash.

Happy Thursday!

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Yeah I'm not sold on the whole "Nuclear Winter" hypothesis.

Smarter people than you and me are.

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Smarter people than you and me are.

I didn't realize this at first, but Robock et al seem to have made all their papers freely available in PDF form at that link. Just throwing that out there for anyone who's interested.

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My slightly exaggerated end of the world scenario:

The US has about 4000-5000 nukes,the ruskies about 3200 warheads,there are about 780 cities in the world with 500000 pop. or more(those with lower pop. are doomed anyway).

Not taking into account other countries nuclear arsenal,these two powers could nuke eachother and if they want the whole damn planet into oblivion.

Assuming that resource wars will start at one point in the future everyone will nuke everyone,let's face it old alliances will be forgotten when hunger for resources will be too big.Question is who will be the one to make the first move,from there it's really a domino game "aaaah they fired their shit,let's fire our shit!".

So basically we will have a real version of Fallout 3.

Conclusion:start building your vaults people,I'll see you topside in 200-300 years.(I'm going to freeze myself until then):p

Edited by Krycek

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My slightly exaggerated end of the world scenario:

The US has about 4000-5000 nukes,the ruskies about 3200 warheads,there are about 780 cities in the world with 500000 pop. or more(those with lower pop. are doomed anyway).

Not taking into account other countries nuclear arsenal,these two powers could nuke eachother and if they want the whole damn planet into oblivion.

Assuming that resource wars will start at one point in the future everyone will nuke everyone,let's face it old alliances will be forgotten when hunger for resources will be too big.Question is who will be the one to make the first move,from there it's really a domino game "aaaah they fired their shit,let's fire our shit!".

So basically we will have a real version of Fallout 3.

Conclusion:start building your vaults people,I'll see you topside in 200-300 years.(I'm going to freeze myself until then):p

The lucky ones, will be the dead, in such kind of scenario. I firmly believe that we humans are that stupid to do such kind of thing when resources are about to end!!!!!!!!!!!

kind regards

Edited by nettrucker

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