US-Russia nuclear war ‘would cause global famine’

Putin has made several chilling nuclear threats (Image: EPA; Getty)

Putin has made several chilling nuclear threats (Image: EPA; Getty)

A nuclear war between Russia and the US would cause global famine – wiping out almost two-thirds of the world’s population, new research warns.

More than five billion people would die of hunger after a full-blown conflict, scientists say.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the threat to the fore. The study is based on computer simulations.

Lead author Professor Lili Xia of Rutgers University in New Jersey said: “The data tells us one thing. We must prevent nuclear war from ever happening.”

Models showed that firestorms would release soot into the upper atmosphere that would block the sun – leading to global crop failures.

They shed new light on the exact effects when “Mad Vlad” hits the button. Nine nations, including Britain, currently control more than 13,000 nuclear weapons.

Even a clash between new nuclear powers would decimate food production and lead to widespread starvation.

The US team calculated the soot spread from five minor wars between India and Pakistan and one major war between the US and Russia, based on the size of each country’s arsenal.

A climate prediction tool called the Community Earth System Model made it possible to estimate country-by-country impacts on corn, rice, spring wheat and soybeans.

The Impact of Nuclear War on Global Average Calorie Intake (Credit: Nature Food)

The Impact of Nuclear War on Global Average Calorie Intake (Credit: Nature Food)

Researchers also examined projected changes in livestock grazing and marine fisheries.

A localized war between India and Pakistan, global average calorie production fell by 7 percent in five years.

In the worst case – involving the US and Russia – this figure would rise to 90 percent three to four years after the end of the fighting.

Crop declines would be most severe in mid- and high-latitude countries, including big exporters like Russia and the US.

It could trigger restrictions and cause severe disruption in import-dependent countries in Africa and the Middle East.

These would lead to a catastrophic disruption of global food markets. Even a seven percent drop would exceed the largest since records began in 1961.

(Original caption) Badger, part of Operation Upshot-Knothole, was a 23-kiloton turret shell fired on April 18, 1953 at the Nevada Test Site. (Photo by ?? CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

A nuclear conflict between the US and Russia would have devastating global consequences (Corbis via Getty Images)

In the greatest war scenario, more than 75 percent of the planet would starve within two years.

Using crops fed to livestock as human food or reducing waste would have minimal benefits.

Prof. Xia said: “Future work will add even more granularity to the crop models.

“For example, the ozone layer would be depleted by the warming of the stratosphere, generating more ultraviolet radiation at the surface, and we need to understand these implications for the food supply.”

Colorado University climate scientists are creating detailed soot models for specific cities — like Washington DC.

Inventories of each building will provide a more accurate picture of how much smoke would be produced.

Co-author Prof Alan Robock, also of Rutgers, said researchers already had more than enough information to know that a nuclear war of any size would wipe out global food systems, killing billions of people in the process.

He said: “If nuclear weapons exist, they can be used, and the world has come close to nuclear war on several occasions.

“Baning nuclear weapons is the only long-term solution. The five-year-old UN treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by 66 nations, but none of the nine nuclear states.

“Our work makes it clear that it’s time for these nine countries to listen to science and the rest of the world and sign this treaty.”

The study is in Nature Food. Earlier this year, another US team found that a nuclear war between the US and Russia would trigger a “Little Ice Age” that would last for thousands of years.

Digitally generated accurate scene of a destroyed city / post-nuclear city scene with ruined architecture (storm). The scene was rendered with photorealistic shaders and lighting in Autodesk?? 3ds Max 2016 with V-Ray 3.6.

Previous research has shown that nuclear war would trigger a “little ice age” (Credits: Getty Images)

In the first month after the detonation, average global temperatures would drop about 13 degrees Fahrenheit — more than during the last ice age. That ended 11,700 years ago – killing the woolly mammoth.

Once the smoke is released into the upper atmosphere, it spreads globally — affecting everyone.

Marine ecosystems would also be destroyed, both initially and in a new sea state – leading to long-term impacts on fisheries and other services.

The world population is currently around eight billion.

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Justin Scacco

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