Will an India-Pakistan war usher in a nuclear winter?

If the 2 countries fire their nukes, global temperatures may plummet2-5°C

Published: Friday 04 October 2019

Hostilities between India and Pakistan may be a regional affair, but a full-scale war between the south Asian neighbours can be devastating for the entire planet.

A new report by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and Rutgers University published in the Science Advances journal builds a hypothesis around a possible nuclear war between the two South Asian neighbours.

The report lists both the local dangers along with global ramifications of such an event. The researchers assumed that in less than a week the two countries could detonate 250 million warheads, killing 50-150 million people.

Each warhead can theoretically kill 700,000 people. The deaths would exceed the number of people killed during the six-year-long World War II.

“An India-Pakistan war could double the normal death rate in the world,” Brian Toon, a professor in the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at Boulder, said. “This is a war that would have no precedent in human experience.”

Global ramifications would be equally serious. Such a war could potentially inject 80 billion pounds of thick black smoke into the atmosphere. This smoke will screen sun rays from reaching the surface.

Global temperatures would plummet by 2-5 degree Celsius and remain for several years at levels of the last Ice Age. The world will experience a nuclear winter.

A nuclear winter would mean plants becoming unproductive depletion of algae in the ocean, and dangerous consequences in the food chain, including the ones human consume.

The researchers hoped that both countries would take note of the paper.

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