The United States and Russia have quite the bumpy relationship. Talk of war between the two powerful countries isn’t anything new, and anyone who is paying attention knows that such a war would be devastating for much of the world.
Two recent research projects show just how bad things would be if the US and Russia unleashed their nuclear arsenals on each other.
A war between the US and Russia would cause a global nuclear winter.
Several months ago, researchers from Rutgers University, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research ran a simulation to see what a nuclear war between the US and Russia would do, and the findings were not pretty: Such a war would plunge the planet into a nuclear winter, with clouds of soot and smoke covering the planet. The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, found that the nuclear detonations would inject about 147 million tons of soot into the atmosphere. That soot would then spread around the stratosphere, blanketing the Earth in darkness:
Current nuclear arsenals used in a war between the United States and Russia could inject 150 Tg of soot from fires ignited by nuclear explosions into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. We simulate the climate response using the Community Earth System Model‐Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model version 4 (WACCM4), run at 2° horizontal resolution with 66 layers from the surface to 140 km, with full stratospheric chemistry and with aerosols from the Community Aerosol and Radiation Model for Atmospheres allowing for particle growth.
We compare the results to an older simulation conducted in 2007 with the Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE run at 4° × 5° horizontal resolution with 23 levels up to 80 km and constant specified aerosol properties and ozone. These are the only two comprehensive climate model simulations of this scenario. Despite having different features and capabilities, both models produce similar results. Nuclear winter, with below freezing temperatures over much of the Northern Hemisphere during summer, occurs because of a reduction of surface solar radiation due to smoke lofted into the stratosphere. WACCM4’s more sophisticated aerosol representation removes smoke more quickly, but the magnitude of the climate response is not reduced. In fact, the higher‐resolution WACCM4 simulates larger temperature and precipitation reductions than ModelE in the first few years following a 150‐Tg soot injection. A strengthening of the northern polar vortex occurs during winter in both simulations in the first year, contributing to above normal, but still below freezing, temperatures in the Arctic and northern Eurasia.
Not only would explosions, fires, and radiation exposure kill millions in targeted cities, but the resulting nuclear winter – which could last many years- would drastically alter the Earth’s climate. The growing season would be slashed by nearly 90 percent in some areas, and death by famine would threaten nearly all of the Earth’s 7.7 billion people.
According to the model, the soot would not visibly clear for around seven years. Temperatures would drop by an average of 9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit) across the globe, the researchers wrote, and it would take around three years for surface light to return to 40 percent of its pre-attack level.
More than 90 million immediate casualties would result.
Researchers at Princeton University created a simulation to see just how bad a nuclear war between the US and Russia would be for humanity, and the picture they paint is terrifying. The team used the Pentagon’s own plans (which were recently leaked) to “highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current US and Russian nuclear war plans,”
The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years as the United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties, started to develop new kinds of nuclear weapons and expanded the circumstances in which they might use nuclear weapons. (source)
Researchers at Princeton’s Science and Global Security Lab created this video, which shows just how widespread the devastation from a nuclear war would be.
Does that simulation remind anyone else of the 1983 movie War Games? In that film, a young hacker accidentally accesses a US military supercomputer system called War Operation Plan Response (WOPR). Believing it is a video game, the hacker gets WOPR to run a nuclear war simulation – and the computer nearly starts World War III.
At the end of the movie, the computer tells Professor Falken, who is attempting to stop the WOPR from launching war, that nuclear war is “a strange game” in which “the only winning move is not to play.”
How many nuclear weapons are there?
Nine countries together possess nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons. The US and Russia have the most (6185 and 6500, respectively).
According to ICAN, “The United States and Russia maintain roughly 1,800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status – ready to be launched within minutes of a warning. Most are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.”
If all of the nuclear weapons in the world were detonated at once, what would happen? The YouTube channel Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell attempts to demonstrate the aftermath in this video.
Is nuclear war between the US and Russia inevitable?
Such a war would be suicide for both countries, so why either would resort to such a thing baffles the mind. Earlier today, CNBC reported that Russia is conducting massive military drills with China, India, and Pakistan, in what experts say could be Moscow “sending a powerful message to the West.” Some sourcesreport that tensions between the US and Russia are escalating to “new Cold War” levels. Others believe that the ousting of war hawk John Bolton might be a sign of the potential for a Russia-China-US alliance.
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Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.