May 19, 2022

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What is the dream of a possible nuclear war?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 was short-lived and effective. But the country has resisted a military offensive for more than eight days, intensifying the war to the point where last Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use his nuclear weapons in the face of sanctions imposed on his nuclear weapons.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has criticized the raising of the nuclear weapons alert in Geneva.And a number of leaders, including President Ivan Duque, condemned the occupation of Ukraine and expressed their support for UN resolutions condemning Russia for the war.

Although Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons, there are fears that Russia will attack, and that NATO will retain its members and respond to the outbreak of World War III, which will be primarily nuclear. The scene was designed by a team of scientists from Princeton University. First, there is war between the West and Russia, but as soon as major European capitals are bombed, the conflict between the United States and Russia becomes central.

According to this simulation, 3.1 million people will die in 45 minutes. That opportunity is not far off today. Joe Biden said last week that “the United States and its allies will protect every inch of NATO-owned countries.” All of this led the nuclear scientists’ bulletin to update its Doomsday clock to 100 seconds before midnight.

Not much is known about the consequences of war of this magnitude. The case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 is no longer a credible reference because “today atomic bombs are very sophisticated and many more countries have these types of weapons,” says Diego Torres, a professor of nuclear physics at the National University. According to the American Federation of Scientists, there are more than 11,000 weapons in the world in the United States and Russia alone, and “the most advanced are 20 to 30 times more powerful than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

The best reference is to the movie The Day After (1983), which depicts a catastrophic and dark planet after the nuclear attack between Russia and the United States. Therefore, there are only scientific models that can predict what will happen in different situations of nuclear conflict.

The first thing experts point out is that it depends on many factors, including the weather in which the bomb was dropped and the time of day, the geographical location of where it struck and whether it exploded on the ground or in the air.

The United States and Russia have the most sophisticated and destructive nuclear weapons. – Photo: ap / getty images

In addition, the impact is often due to the type and number of bombs used. “There are two types of bombs: split bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 7,000 of which have been miscalculated,” Torres says. According to Torres, if one of those fixed bombs fell on the capital, it would destroy the area from the city to the National University. “But there are other types called fusion. They are thousands of times more powerful and one of them will evaporate the whole savannah of Bogot.

In general, there are some predictable conditions. The eruption is a gigantic fireball that emits a large amount of light and reaches the lower layers of the atmosphere. The impact will immediately kill those at the center of the eruption, but those a little further away could suffer tertiary burns.

An explosion of this magnitude creates a sudden change in air pressure, which crushes objects and knocks down buildings up to 6 kilometers away. Humans can withstand that pressure, but most buildings will collapse and die.

But if they start with not one but many, Trostenko’s calculations predict the death toll of millions of people. The suit kicked by the atomic bomb will scatter the clouds into the atmosphere. Exposure to these radioactive elements can cause damage at the cellular level. In the short term, those clouds will block sunlight and turn the world into a refrigerator unsuitable for growing food.

This is called the nuclear winter, a phenomenon that causes famine on the planet. Three years after the nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia, that layer will reduce global warming by more than 10 degrees Celsius. The world will be colder than the last ice age. “The size and size of the bombs predict whether it will be nuclear winter or autumn, ”said Joshua Pierce, a professor and researcher at Western University in Canada. “There will be food shortages in the fall, but enough sunlight to grow some crops like potatoes.”

The United States and Russia have almost all nuclear weapons in the world.
The United States and Russia have almost all nuclear weapons in the world. – Photo: Source: American Federation of Scientists

No one doubts that the nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia will be the worst. “It will not only kill millions of people, but pollute large areas with radioactive particles that have a lasting effect,” said Hans M., director of the Atomic Information Project. Says Christensen. For Trostenko, such a scenario simply means “end of civilization.”

Recent studies have shown that a “small” nuclear war, with less than 1 percent of the world’s arsenal, could have dramatic consequences, destroying the world’s food, destroying the ozone layer, and exposing humans to harmful UV rays. The danger is that these regional nuclear conflicts are more likely to happen.

A study on the nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan states that not only the immediate impact of such a war, but also the consequences on agricultural production could cause billions of deaths. For all of the above, according to Professor Torres, it is highly unlikely that Russia will drop a nuclear bomb on Ukraine. “It would be like shooting yourself in the leg,” he clarifies, because the devastating effects of the explosion will be felt on his own soil.

According to him, the nuclear power of these weapons is so great that it prevents them from being used. “They are destroying the neighbors and their house,” he adds. In addition to the billions killed, the chemistry of the oceans will change and coral reefs and other marine ecosystems will be destroyed. A nuclear conflict, even if localized, can have catastrophic global consequences. Anyway, if it happened, the epidemic would, in comparison, have been a party, if possible.

As this is news of global interest, all content about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will be freely accessible to our readers on all SEMANA digital platforms.