There are risks and then, there are global catastrophic risks. One recent study reveals that threat and consequences of nuclear war is simply too big to ignore. After all, the aftermath can mean the immediate death of 35 to 77 percent of the U.S. population and the loss sunlight and growing food for four to five years due to a nuclear winter.
These are the findings released by the Global Challenges Foundation, an organization dedicated to understanding and tackling some of the world’s worst challenges and risk scenarios. For the organization’s founder, Laszlo Szombatfalvy, global catastrophic risks (GCR’s) include any threat that is capable of eliminating at least 10 percent of the global population. And you can bet, nuclear war is one of them.
The report states that reducing the risk of a nuclear war continues to be an “ongoing global challenge.” This is because tensions are high between countries with nuclear arsenals, the U.S. and Russia among them.
In an earlier report, Morning News USA has determined that as much as 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapon stockpile can be found in the said countries. Of the 9,920 nuclear warheads the world in 2014, 4,760 belonged to China while Russia owned 4,300.
Meanwhile, adding to the nuclear tensions is the subsequent threat of North Korea. Just last month, the 38 North program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies concluded that Pyongyang’s ballistic missile range has recently been enhanced so that it can now hit targets such as New York and Washington, D.C.
Earlier this year, North Korea also released a video simulating how it can attack Washington with a nuclear bomb. Should the U.S. engage North Korea or Russia, the consequences can be deadly. At the same time, the report also said that India and Pakistan are ” most likely” to engage in “intentional nuclear war.”
According to the report by Global Challenges, U.S. and Russia going into a nuclear war would mean the death of 35 to 77 percent of the U.S. population and 20 to 40 percent of the Soviet population within the first 30 days of the attack.
Nuclear weapons are already smaller than before and it was also determined that the proportionate death toll can be lower. Nonetheless, millions are also expected to die in the following years as they get exposed to radioactive dust cloud.
At the same time, the threat of a nuclear winter cannot be ignored. This phenomenon is brought about by the burning of cities as well as industrial facilities and other flammable materials.
With an all-out exchange of 4,000 nuclear weapons leading to the release of 150 teragrams of smoke, global temperature is expected to drop by 8°C. When nuclear winter sets, there will be loss of sunlight, which means there will be no growing food to survive on for four to five years.
As of the moment, there is still an ongoing debate about how to lower the risk of nuclear war around the world.
In fact, the report states, “How to make the trade-off between lower likelihood of nuclear or conventional conflict is unclear.”