A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would set off a global famine that could kill two billion people and effectively end human civilisation, study finds.
Nuclear war between India and Pakistan ‘could end human civilisation’, study finds
WASHINGTON // A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would set off a global famine that could kill two billion people and effectively end human civilisation, a study said yesterday.
Even if limited in scope, a conflict with nuclear weapons would wreak havoc in the atmosphere and devastate crop yields, with the effects multiplied as global food markets went into turmoil, the report said.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility released an initial peer-reviewed study in April 2012 that predicted a nuclear famine could kill more than a billion people.
In a second edition, the groups said they widely underestimated the impact in China and calculated that the world’s most populous country would face severe food insecurity.
“A billion people dead in the developing world is obviously a catastrophe unparalleled in human history. But then if you add to that the possibility of another 1.3 billion people in China being at risk, we are entering something that is clearly the end of civilisation,” said Ira Helfand, the report’s author.
Mr Helfand said that the study looked at India and Pakistan due to the longstanding tensions between the nuclear-armed states, which have fought three full-fledged wars since independence and partition in 1947.
“In this kind of war, biologically there are going to be people surviving somewhere on the planet but the chaos that would result from this will dwarf anything we’ve ever seen,” Mr Helfand said.
The study said that the black carbon aerosol particles kicked into the atmosphere by a South Asian nuclear war would reduce US corn and soybean production by around 10 per cent over a decade.
The particles would also reduce China’s rice production by an average of 21 per cent over four years and by another 10 per cent over the following six years.
* Agence France-Presse