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What Happens AFTER Nuclear War?

Mar 05, 2024
Nuclear war would forever divide human history. About everything that happened before and the post-war apocalypse. In the worst cases, massive fires consume everything in tens of thousands of square kilometers and kill hundreds of millions in a matter of hours. But the worst comes later: a

nuclear

war could trigger a

nuclear

winter that would kill billions of people and perhaps even completely collapse our civilization.  How does it work and

what

would it be like? Fire Causes Winter When a nuclear weapon is detonated, a bubble of gas hotter than the sun emerges, so hot that everything miles away immediately begins to burn.
what happens after nuclear war
The terrorist bubble expands rapidly, filling the sky above its target, creating a devastating shockwave that causes most of the immediate destruction. Basically, you break a bunch of things and set them on fire, and in the worst case scenario this turns into a firestorm that consumes everything and everyone on the ground. Immediately after the explosion, a gigantic mushroom cloud rises above the destruction like a demon mastering its wicked work, but in the hours that follow, a much deadlier cloud forms. The fire that burns cities, forests or fields heats so much air that it creates its own microclimate and wind system.
what happens after nuclear war

More Interesting Facts About,

what happens after nuclear war...

Hot air and hot smoke rise, drawing in fresh air from the surroundings and fresh oxygen further fanning the flames.   This creates an updraft and forms a colossal pyrocumulonimbus cloud that carries soot and aerosols from the flames high into the stratosphere. Under normal conditions, the soot released by a large fire is quickly washed away by rain. But a pyrocumulonimbus cloud can reach altitudes much higher than the height where rain clouds form. Once above the tropopause, there is simply no weather to remove soot from the atmosphere, so it can remain in the air for years. If this

happens

to just one city, it's a tragedy, but a fairly local one.
what happens after nuclear war
But in a full-scale nuclear war, the warring nations, following the cold logic of mutually assured destruction, could use hundreds or even thousands of nuclear weapons at a time, creating hundreds of firestorms, sending up to 150 million tons of soot, a cube the size of a skyscraper, directly into the stratosphere. In the coming days and weeks, soot begins to cover the land at high altitudes, absorbing light high above the ground and preventing sunlight from reaching the surface. This is not like science fiction where the sky darkens and the sun disappears.   Winter is

what

happens

when a little less sunlight reaches the ground and suddenly a lot less sunlight passes through.
what happens after nuclear war
Yesterday the world was normal. Nuclear winter begins today. Winter Causes Famine The severity of nuclear winter remains an area of ​​active research. It all depends on one thing:   how many things will burn really hot? How many firestorms would the heat of the explosions cause? This depends on many factors, from the materials a city is made of, to the time of year, if there is a forest nearby, etc. So keep in mind that we are working with some assumptions. Here's the good news: Nuclear winter isn't permanent, and it's definitely not a new ice age. The effects on the climate only last as long as the soot remains in the atmosphere, which is at most about a decade until it disappears and temperatures normalize.
The bad news is that this causes almost immediate climate change within a few weeks: it alters our climate system faster than any living thing can adapt. In this new climate, our seasons are suddenly wrong. Winters are much longer and summers are shorter and colder, or even disappear completely. This also means less evaporation over the oceans, which means less rain and perhaps large-scale droughts. This is bad because our food eats the sun. Without good summers and enough rain, growing seasons shrink or even collapse. Most of humanity lives in an area called the mid-latitudes, a strip of land that has the ideal temperature for our species, not only because it is not too hot or too cold, but it is also where the plants we eat grow best.
The vast majority of the food we eat comes from a few highly efficient crops, produced primarily in a few very agriculturally productive regions, such as the Great Plains of the United States or Ukraine. From these baskets of bread and rice around the world, they are marketed and shipped all over the world. In the worst case scenario, a full-scale nuclear war, temperatures in the mid-latitudes will likely remain below freezing for several years. Nothing at all can grow in these conditions and the granaries of the world would suddenly become empty.  If food production collapses, it is very likely that the world's food producers will raise prices or even stop selling food to other countries, if they can still cultivate their fields.
It's easy to calculate how many people may be alive on Earth: you take all the calories we can produce and divide them by what the average person needs to survive. If you have more people than calories, after a few weeks you will no longer have any more. Humanity only has crops and food for a few weeks, insufficient to survive this drastic drop in production. But the climate is not the only problem: modern industrialized agriculture is a complex affair that depends on the functioning of supply chains to provide unthinkable quantities of industrially produced fertilizers and chemicals to kill weeds and vermin.
A large amount of specialized modern machinery is plowing, sowing, harvesting and distributing. After a nuclear war, especially if the countries that produce the food were part of the nuclear exchange, there may simply be no more fuel, fertilizer, or machinery parts left, because there are no oil refineries, ports, or other essential infrastructure left, which that damages the planet. even more food production. Okay, now that we've set the stage, let's look at what science says about real wars that could happen. Actual Nuclear War Today there are two main conflicts that scientists think about when making calculations about nuclear winter: a nuclear war between India and Pakistan and another between the United States and Russia.
The most likely small nuclear exchange would be fought today between India and Pakistan, with relatively low-yield weapons. Even in a fairly mild nuclear war like this, the immediate explosions would kill about 27 million people, which is horrible enough. In just a few hours more people would die than in the entire First World War. The subsequent fires would not cause a nuclear winter, but rather a mild “nuclear autumn.” But even this would disrupt the climate, and therefore global agriculture, enough to starve up to 250 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, India and Pakistan are in an arms race and have been increasing the number and power of warheads in their arsenal.
The next stage of escalation would be war with hundreds of nuclear weapons, bombs and fires that would destroy many major population centers and kill more than 100 million people. A war of this scale would cause a nuclear winter that would damage global agriculture enough to cut the calories available to humanity in half. The number of people who would die of hunger would rise to 2 billion. One in four humans is alive today. The worst case scenario is a full-scale global war between NATO nations and Russia (or China, which also continues to build its nuclear arsenal). In a war between a former, future, and current superpower, thousands of nuclear weapons could be detonated.
In a scenario with around 4,400 nuclear weapons, 360 million people would die immediately. We have no other event with which to compare death and destruction. It is as if humanity dropped an asteroid on itself. The nuclear winter that follows such an apocalyptic war would reduce human calorie production by up to 90%. Not only would almost all of our agriculture suffer an immediate and fatal blow, but the climate would take at least a decade to recover. Because a war like this would specifically affect the regions of the world that produce most of humanity's food: recovery will be much, much more difficult than in other conflicts.
Within two years, the global death toll from famine could rise to around 5 billion.   In mid-latitude countries such as Russia, China, Canada, the United States and much of Europe, only a small percentage of the population could survive.  Humanity will never be the same again. While no place is truly safe, some nations in the southern hemisphere may do well enough to hold out, while the rest of the world collapses.  All nuclear weapons states are in the northern hemisphere. Therefore, some countries like Australia, New Zealand and Argentina may hold out for a number of different reasons. Their nuclear winter would be milder, they have a lot of livestock that would not be affected as much as the crops.
Therefore, they would probably stop exporting food and focus on keeping their own people alive, assuming other hungry nations didn't invade them for their food. It's safe to say that the world will be extremely unpleasant for a long time to come, and it's impossible to know how many people will have died when the nuclear winter ends. In the worst case scenario, human civilization could collapse and the survivors would be cast out thousands of years ago, slowly trying to reclaim a world full of scars and graves. In the end, when they have rebuilt civilization, will they go back to making nuclear weapons?
We know for a fact that we must do everything we can to ensure that a nuclear war never occurs. This video was supported by Open Philanthropy. If you want to know what YOU can do to reduce the risk of nuclear war, you can support expert organizations or become an expert citizen yourself and learn more. We've compiled a list of further reading and expert recommendations in the information box and in our sources document for you. Thank you very much for helping us clean out the Kurzgesagt warehouse for our big move!   But be careful: sometimes spooky things hide behind those boxes.  Wild DREAD appears!
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