Children of the Atomic Bomb: An American Physician's Memoir of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and the Marshall Islands

Nuclear War's Impact on Global Climate

Even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found. A team of scientists at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; the University of Colorado at Boulder, and UCLA. While a regional nuclear confrontation among emerging third-world nuclear powers might be geographically constrained, the environmental impacts could be worldwide.

These conclusions presented during the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco on December 11, 2006.

"David and Goliath" Effect

Even the smallest nuclear powers today and in the near future may have as many as 50 or more Hiroshima-size (15 kiloton) weapons in their arsenals: all told, about 40 countries possess enough plutonium and/or unranium to construct substantial nuclear arsenals.

Owen Brian Toon, chair of the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at CU-Boulder states: "A small country is likely to direct its weapons against population centers to maximize damage and achieve the greatest advantage. Fatality estimates for a plausible rxegional conflict ranged from 2.6 million to 16.7 million per country.

Richard Turco, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, UCLA: "Considering the relatively small number and size of the weapons, the effects are surprisingly large. The potential devastation would be catastrophic and long term."

Earth Cooling Due to Nuclear Fallout Affects Grain-growing Regions, Food Supplies, and Water

Alan Robock, professor in the department of environmental sciences and associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutger's Cook College: "A cooling of several degrees would occur over large areas of North America and Eurasia, including most of the grain-growing regions. As in the case with earlier nuclear winter calculations, large climatic effects would occur in regions far removed from the target areas or the countries involved in the conflict."