Even a limited, regional nuclear war, such as one between archrivals India and Pakistan, would cause major changes in the global climate and likely starve a billion people, according to new research.
The huge amounts of dust and dirt thrown into the atmosphere by multiple atomic explosions would reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the earth, according to the research released Tuesday by the nonprofit anti-nuclear Physicians for Social Responsibility.
As a result, U.S. production of grains and soy would decline for five years, eventually dipping to 80 percent of their current level, and take another five years to recover.
Chinese rice production also would fall to about 79 percent of its current level during the first four years following a nuclear exchange involving 100 small warheads.
India and Pakistan have more than 100 warheads between them.
The decline in agricultural production would disrupt global food markets and send prices spiraling, pushing many of the world’s already hungry poor over the edge to starvation.
“The number of people threatened by nuclear-war induced famine would be well over one billion,” the research concludes.
The research is based on data from NASA and the National Academy of Science and has been submitted for publication in the scientific journal Climatic Change. It was funded by the Swiss Foreign Ministry.