In a scenario where the United States launches a nuclear attack against a country, Americans won't be spared from the fatal consequences of that same strike.
The first thing that comes to mind when discussing a nuclear war is how it could obliterate the target country. A new paper, therefore, examined the consequences of a nuclear strike on the very nation firing the weapons.
The Consequences Of A Nuclear Strike
The repercussions were imagined in "best-case scenario," where the target nation would not engage in any counterattack. For example, if the United States fired a nuclear weapon, its very own people would suffer an effect called "nuclear autumn" or environmental blowback.
There would be a drastic drop in temperature because of the "soot" or chemical remnants from nuclear blasts that would block the sun from reaching the Earth's surface. A decreased in precipitation would follow.
As days go by, there would be an increased ultraviolet radiation because of the damaged atmosphere. Eventually, starvation would happen as a result of non-functioning supply chains.
"If we use 1,000 nuclear warheads against an enemy and no one retaliates, we will see about 50 times more Americans die than did on 9/11 due to the after-effects of our own weapons," reads one example given by Joshua Pearce, one of the authors of the paper.
The paper essentially warned that any nation who plans to launch a nuclear war must first assess whether it could survive the problems of its own making.
A Nuclear War Perspective
According to the paper, Americans would only be saved from the nuclear autumn if the United States would limit its strike to a use of 100 nuclear missiles. The problem, however, is that countries such as the United States and Russia possess thousands of nuclear arsenals.
In its calculation, the paper assumed that the United States would launch nuclear bombs with yields amounting to 15 kilotons. This would just be the same amount of explosive dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
However, the nuclear bombs owned by the countries at present are five to 25 times more lethal than what was used during the World War II. The explosive yields of nuclear weapons at present range from 100 to 500 kilotons.
The largest, however, has an explosive yield of 5,000 kilotons. The United States, in fact, has one with an explosive yield of roughly 1,400 kilotons.
Amount Fatal To Americans If The US Initiates Nuclear Attack
The paper published in the journal Safety on June 14 calculated the potential damage if the United States were to fire 7,000 nuclear missiles, 1,000 nuclear missiles, and 100 nuclear missiles. The nuclear attacks were imagined to be launched against China.
The 7,000 warheads would produce 30 trillion grams of soot. It could result in a nuclear autumn on a worldwide level and, later on, could starve as much as 5 million Americans. The 1,000 nuclear arsenal fired would produce 12 trillion grams of soot, which could starve 140,000 Americans.
Meanwhile, Americans would be saved from starvation if the United States were to fire 100 nuclear missiles. On the other hand, it could kill as much as 30 million people in China, which in return, could set off a counterattack.
An Appeal To Department Of Defense
The authors of the study argued that there would be no logical reason for any country to maintain nuclear arsenals greater than 100. They now call for the U.S. Department of Defense to include the potential environmental blowback to the American people when designing its nuclear policies
"The U.S. government should greatly increase focus on producing alternative food to provide for survivors in the case of nuclear war," said David Denkenberger, one of the authors of the paper.
More importantly, the authors of the paper call for worldwide country leaders to reduce the nuclear weapon arsenals they keep in their possessions.