A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would result in 125 million deaths, global cooling and mass starvation

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would result in 125 million deaths, global cooling and mass starvation
Representative image of the destruction resulting from a nuclear warPixabay
  • A new study highlights that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would result in the deaths of 125 million people.
  • The resulting pollution from the nuclear attacks would get trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere resulting in global cooling.
  • The drop in temperatures could trigger mass starvation following a reduction in the ocean’s productivity and vegetation growth.
The brewing tensions between India and Pakistan have to simmer down. Otherwise, the possible consequences could be disastrous.

If a nuclear war were to break out between the countries, not only would it result in mass casualties but worldwide collateral damage, according to a new study published in Science Advances.

"India and Pakistan are of special concern because of a long history of military clashes including serious recent ones, lack of progress in resolving territorial issues, densely populated urban areas, and ongoing rapid expansion of their respective nuclear arsenals," the environmental study stated.

Scientists predict that India and Pakistan may have 400 to 500 nuclear weapons between themselves, by 2025. They would only have to use a fraction of those weapons to unleash destruction.

Blocking out sunlight

According to the study, if India uses 100 of its nuclear weapons to target urban centers in Pakistan. And, if Pakistan reciprocates by launching 150 of its own nuclear missiles, the death toll could reach 125 million.

The resulting smoke from on-ground nuclear fires would get trapped in the lowest level of the atmosphere — the troposphere, which is 10 to 15 kilometers above the Earth’s surface — and spread around the globe in a matter of weeks.

The density of the smoke would block out 20-35% of the incoming sunlight followed by global cooling of 2 degrees Celsius to 5 degrees Celsius.

And, it could take the Earth more than 10 years to recover from the catastrophe.

"Such a war would threaten not only the locations where bombs might be targeted but the entire world," said Alan Robock, the lead author of the study.

The domino effect

Global cooling is only one immediate after-effect of the nuclear war between India and Pakistan. It would also mean that precipitation would fall by an average of 15-30% worldwide with the regional impact being much greater.

Because there will be less rain, vegetation growth will also decline by 15-30% and the ocean’s productivity would be affected by 5-15%, triggering mass starvation across the world.

The researchers clarify that it’s unlikely that either country will actually unleash nuclear weapons but they could be used by accident — for instance, if either of their defence systems were hacked.

"The only way to prevent this is to eliminate them (nuclear weapons)," stated Robock.