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For many weeks much of the mainstream media world-wide, including broadcasters, been warning of potential concessions in the negotiations between the US and North Korea and between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, lest vital interests of the west are compromised. In the process little has been said about the alternative for such negotiations and potential agreements, namely a nuclear holocaust on a regional to a global scale, with consequences that belong to the unthinkable (see this, this and this). In this context, a picture is emerging regarding the priorities of the US President: On the one hand he tends to favor authoritarian undemocratic leaders and regimes; on the other hand he may wish to form a pact with Russia, avoiding a suicidal nuclear war.
The Castle Bravo Hydrogen bomb
It is not clear what some of the mainstream media is concerned about?
The assumption is made as if the world is split into light and dark, good and bad, with a total demonization of one of the adversaries with whom no agreements should be trusted?
Or, are peace agreements less newsworthy and sell fewer newspapers than conflict and wars? Or is it connected with vested interests, namely a reduction in the global armament production and trade reducing profits, consequent to peace agreements? One thing is clear, once a pro-war atmosphere is promoted, as for example prior to WWI, the chances of a war happening are multiplied,
Rarely do the mainstream media report the full consequences of a nuclear war, just as they rarely report on the full consequences of runaway global warming.
A summary of the consequences: U.S.-Russian war producing 150 million tons of smoke follows
- 2600 U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons on high-alert are launched, in 2 to 3 minutes, at targets in the U.S., Europe and Russia and other targets considered to have strategic value. Some fraction of the remaining 7600 deployed and operational U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads/weapons are also launched and detonated in retaliation for the initial attacks.
- Massive amounts of radioactive fallout would be generated and spread both locally and globally. The targeting of nuclear reactors would significantly increase fallout of long-lived isotopes.
- Hundreds of large cities in the U.S., Europe and Russia are engulfed in massive firestorms which burn urban areas of tens or hundreds of thousands of square miles/kilometers. 150 million tons of smoke from nuclear fires rises above cloud level, into the stratosphere, where it quickly spreads around the world and forms a dense stratospheric cloud layer. The smoke will remain there for many years to block and absorb sunlight.
- Gigantic ground-hugging clouds of toxic smoke would be released from the fires; enormous quantities of industrial chemicals would also enter the environment.
- The smoke blocks up to 70% of the sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface in the Northern Hemisphere, and up to 35% of the sunlight is also blocked in the Southern Hemisphere. In the absence of warming sunlight, surface temperatures on Earth become as cold as they were 18,000 years ago at the height of the last Ice Age. There would be rapid cooling of more than 20° Celsius over large areas of North America and of more than 30° Celsius over much of Eurasia, including all agricultural regions
- Average global precipitation would be reduced by 45% due to the prolonged cold. Growing seasons would be virtually eliminated for many years.
- Massive destruction of the protective ozone layer would also occur, allowing intense levels of dangerous UV light to penetrate the atmosphere and reach the surface of the Earth.
- It would be impossible for many living things to survive the extreme rapidity and degree of changes in temperature and precipitation, combined with drastic increases in UV light, massive radioactive fallout, and massive releases of toxins and industrial chemicals.
- Already stressed land and marine ecosystems would collapse.
- Unable to grow food, most humans would starve to death.
- A mass extinction event would occur, similar to what happened 66 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were wiped out following a large asteroid impact with Earth (70% of species became extinct, including all animals greater than 25 kilograms in weight).
- Even humans living in shelters equipped with many years-worth of food, water, energy, and medical supplies would probably not survive in the hostile post-war environment.
Perhaps the mainstream media, the tail which commonly wags the dog, ought to worry about some of the consequences of nuclear war as much as they worry about potential concessions inherent in peace talk between the world’s superpowers.
Dr Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, ANU School of Anthropology and Archaeology, ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland.