Fact Check: Will the World Survive a Nuclear War?
There have been a number of times when the world has been on the brink of nuclear war – whether or not we’ve been aware.
The primary example is the last century’s cold war, which was an ongoing battle for supremacy between the U.S. and Russia.
However, there has never been a global-scale nuclear conflict, and there’s only been one record of nuclear warfare in history: The 1945 American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
With the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict continuing to escalate, many are considering the prospects of global nuclear war, and whether the world can survive it.
In this article, we’ll be exploring what would happen if there was a global nuclear conflict, and what we would see on a global scale.
What can Chernobyl teach us about nuclear warfare?
The Chornobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that happened at the Chornobyl power plant on 26th April 1996 – where reactor #4 exploded, causing massive amounts of radiation to enter the atmosphere.
Though the official death toll sits at 31 people, this number is highly disputed by the UNm who has claimed that the death toll was likely closer to 50.
Chernobyl, while a tragedy, served as a global lesson about the dangers of radiation and the catastrophic consequences at risk with every use. It has been cited as the biggest nuclear disaster in human history and has given us insight into the effects that radiation can have on the human body. It has equally taught us about the long-lasting impact of a global nuclear war geographically and sociologically and has been a powerful motivator for nations around the world to avoid the risk of global-scale warfare as much as possible.
What would happen if there was a nuclear war?
Thinking about this type of crisis is a grim prospect, but it’s one that has caused a lot of fascination for as long as we’ve had nuclear weapons.
On a global scale, it’s difficult to comprehend what it might look like to survive a nuclear war.
If there was a nuclear war then the atmosphere would change dramatically – becoming more acrid and toxic than ever before. We would have greater potential for UV permeability, as the protective layers of the more immediate atmosphere would be damaged. Harvests would fail and water sources would be polluted, which would lead to global starvation and illness. These consequences compounded would likely cause a mass extension event for many different groups and populations.
Will the world survive a nuclear war?
Though there’s a chance of survival and societal reform after the nuclear war, the long-lasting impact that radiation could have on the earth’s environment would cause a mass extinction event, as the earth would struggle to adapt quickly to the new conditions. That, combined with health emergencies and food shortages would have lasting devastating effects, possibly across generations.
The smaller-scale bombings of Chernobyl and the Hiroshima bombings showed us first-hand the effects of radiation sickness, and the large-scale symptoms that we can expect to experience should a nuclear war break out, and release mass amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.
Acute radiation symptoms include sickness, diarrhea, and health effects. More serious effects could include skin lesions and decay, and neuromusculoskeletal effects. There are also chronic, unexplained symptoms that can happen as the body continues to deteriorate.
What this tells us is that even we did survive the acute radiation sickness, our quality of life would ultimately worsen due to the exposure to radiation, and shortened life expectancy.