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Alpha (decay) male
Alpha males that we all are, none of us believes a nuke attack will ever happen in our lifetimes – so we write this treatise to the alpha female

With around 2000 nuclear weapons on high alert and ready for launch, the nuclear Armageddon is just waiting for its reincarnation. We provide some ‘what if’ details.

There are currently more than 30,000 nuclear weapons of which 8,000 are currently operational. In 1977, the US Department of Defense predicted 265 million casualties from a full-scale US-Soviet nuclear war. United Nations Disarmament Committee states there are more than 16,000 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons ready for deployment and another 14,000 in storage. With regional tension intensifying, especially among nuclear-rich countries, the probability of nuclear war can’t be denied.

Around 50 nuclear weapons are reportedly deployed against each other by India and Pakistan, targeting their megacities. An incident involving Israel and a neighbour (particularly Syria and Lebanon and to some extent the Palestinian areas) may stimulate the Arab nations to fight. Even the nuclear tensions in Iran and North Korea are increasing. Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s nuclear testing spree adds to the complexity. Factoring in nuclear terrorism creates a creepy new dimension with enhanced risk. A nuclear country with a terrorist presence could trigger a nuclear war easily. After the US attempt to push Russia’s neighbours into NATO and the EU, the probability of a US-Russia flash war, though feeble, still can’t be done away with. NATO has stationed around 500 nuclear weapons in Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey. When it comes to the mightiest, the US and Russia keep hundreds of missiles armed with thousands of nuclear warheads on high-alert, 24 hours a day, that reach their targets in less than 30 minutes.

So what if a ‘mild’ nuclear bomb detonates, say in the subcontinent (ten times the power of Little Boy)? In the 30 million subsequent deaths, NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council) calculated that almost 22.1 million people (in India and Pakistan) would be exposed to lethal radiation doses of 600 rem (units that measure the effects of ionizing radiation on humans) in the first two days after the attack. Add to this, 8 million people would be affected by 100 to 600 rem. In general, besides the local destructions, any nuclear war in any part of the world would result in a ripple effect. A study on the ‘Atmospheric chemistry of regional nuclear war’ suggests that the hot smoke from a burning city would tear holes in the ozone layer.
Research by scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder proves that the increased ultraviolet radiation (from the ozone loss) would double the DNA damage along with increasing the cancer rates manifold. This would also reduce crop yields and starve hundreds of millions the world-over.

It is now clear that even a limited and local nuclear war involving less than 100 low-yield weapons, apart from killing a minimum of 20-25 million people, would activate a decade of cold climate titled the ‘nuclear winter’ (report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science). This limited war would also generate 1 to 5 million tonnes of carbonaceous smoke particles, darkening the sky. NASA predicts that 40% of this smoke would stay in the stratosphere for 10 years. The Journal of Geophysical Research concludes through climate model simulations that even a small nuclear conflict would cause mayhem on the atmosphere by “cooling it twice as much as it has heated over the last century.” The journal reports that on an average, global surface cooling of –7°C to –8°C would remain for years – this could well make global temperatures colder than they were 18,000 years ago.

Like we mentioned, it is much easier (and faster) to die from the effects of a nuclear disaster than from those of global warming. Black humour aside, the world in general should gather behind Obama to support his effort to make the world free of nuclear weapons. What would work against him is the fact that the US has extremely less moral authority on this issue. Well, they’ve carried out 1050 plus known nuclear tests till date...

By:- Sray Agarwal

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