Climate change is not the only man-made threat that could wipe out humanity; a nuclear war would also do that.

By Matthew Rozsa, Salon

Suddenly, the threat of nuclear war feels closer than it has in decades. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists updated their Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, and President Joe Biden has issued increasingly ominous statements reflecting how the looming conflict over the Ukraine that could ensnare both Russia and the west into conventional war.

And, some fear, war with nuclear weapons. It is a prospect that has haunted human beings since the dawn of the Cold War. Politicians who were perceived as too open to the idea of nuclear war would pay for their hawkishness at the polls. Motion pictures from “Dr. Strangelove” to “The Day After” have depicted an uninhabitable world, filled with lethal amounts of radiation and short on necessities like food and water. As our electrical infrastructure collapsed around us, people would resort to looting and other violent methods to survive. The seeming deterioration of civilization during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic would be nothing compared to the anarchy and destruction that would follow nuclear war.

Nuclear Missiles With Warhead Aimed at Gloomy Sky. Balistic Rockets War Backgound.

Yet decades of living with nuclear weapons have produced a broad body of knowledge as to what a nuclear war might do to the planet, and to humanity. If even a “small” nuclear war were to break out, tens of millions of people would die after the initial blasts. A blanket of soot would wrap the rays of the Sun and cause a nuclear winter, destroying crops all over the planet and plunging billions into famine. In the northern hemisphere, there would be such severe ozone depletion from the nuclear smoke that organisms would suffer from increased exposure to damaging ultraviolet light. While things would not be as bad in the southern hemisphere, even well-positioned countries like Australia would face the ripple effects from a small nuclear war in the northern hemisphere by sheer virtue of its interconnectedness with the global community.

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