The U.S. and other nuclear powers should rapidly stop nuclear proliferation, researchers at Rutgers University said Wednesday as they released a study showing that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could kill 125 million people instantly before causing global mass starvation.
“When nuclear weapons come into play, what happens in South Asia won’t stay in South Asia. You won’t see the mushroom clouds, but you can look forward to years of climate disruption, draught, famine and death. Or we could just get rid of them.”
—Derek Johnson, Global Zero
Published in the journal Science Advances, the new research shows that rapidly growing nuclear stockpiles in India and Pakistan, which are currently in conflict over Kashmir, could release 16 million to 35 million tons of soot, or black carbon, into the atmosphere if the two countries escalated their standoff into nuclear strikes by 2025.
“Such a war would threaten not only the locations where bombs might be targeted but the entire world,” said Alan Robock, co-author of the study and a professor of environmental sciences at Rutgers.
The only way to avoid such an outcome, said Robock, is to eliminate nuclear weapons.
“Nuclear weapons cannot be used in any rational scenario but could be used by accident or as a result of hacking, panic, or deranged world leaders,” he said. “The only way to prevent this is to eliminate them.”