New Kashmir Conflict Threatens Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

New Kashmir Conflict Threatens Nuclear Exchange Between India and Pakistan

“Tit-for-tat.” The expression evokes the petty aggressions of a long-running feud.

It also describes how two states home to one-fifth of the planet’s population edged closer to nuclear war in the space of a few days.

Two air strikes and a downed jet fighter or two later, India and Pakistan have stepped back from the brink—for now.

The fuse of this sequence of events was lit two weeks earlier on February 14, 2019, when Kashmiri local Adil Ahmad Dar rammed his car full explosives into an Indian military bus, killing forty members of India’s Central Reserve Police Force.

Dar’s parents claimed he had become radicalized after being beaten by Indian police. Afterwards, responsibility for the attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohamad, an insurgent group formed by, based in, and logistically supported by Pakistan, particularly its Inter-Service Intelligence agency.

Twelve days later at 3:30 AM on February 26, a dozen delta-wing Mirage 2000 jets of the Indian Air Force streaked towards the Line Of Control (LOC) separating Pakistani and Indian-occupied Kashmir, skimming close to the ground to mask their radar signature amidst the surrounding mountains. Four twin-engine Su-30 fighters provided escort. Further back, an ERJ-145 Netra jet with a boom-shaped radar on its back scanned the skies for Pakistani interceptors.

The Mirages reportedly released bombs on five targets corresponding to well-known JeM camps around Balakot, Pakistan. The weapons released have been variously reported as laser-guided Paveway glide bombs, Israeli-built GPS-guided SPICE glide bombs, or Indian-developed High-Speed, Low-Drag bombs.

Reportedly, Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighters scrambled to intercept the Indian aircraft but had too little time to prevent the strike.

New Delhi claimed 300 JeM militants preparing further attacks had been killed. Pakistan claimed the bombs all missed.

This marked the first Indian air attack on Pakistani soil since a 1971 war . It was also the second cross-border “surgical strike” since Indian Prime Minister Modi has taken office. Earlier in September 2016, Indian infantry launched a cross-border raid twelve days after an insurgent attack on an Army base in Uri killed nineteen soldiers. Whether that raid had any military results was also disputed.

Regardless, Islamabad promised it would retaliate “at a time and place of our choosing” with a “surprise.”

Pakistani Major General Asif Ghafoor also conveyed that “the Prime Minister is convening its National Command Authority”—the high-level military apparatus that alone can authorize the release of nuclear weapons.

“I hope you know what the NCA means…” Ghafoor added, in case his meaning wasn’t clear enough.

This earlier article details the diverse tactical and strategic nuclear capabilities possessed by Pakistan and India. India has “No First Strike” doctrine, meaning it claims it will only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack. Pakistan, however, maintains it is willing to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional attack.

Air Battles Over Kashmir

Pakistan’s “surprise” was not long in coming. At 9:45 AM the next day, Pakistani jets surged over the Line of Control and launched laser-guided bombs at six Indian targets.


Pakistan claims the fighters were JF-17 Thunders jointly manufactured with China. India alleged the strike package included one or two dozen JF-17s, older Mirage IIIs, and F-16s supplied by the U.S.—the use of which against India would prove controversial.

While Pakistani spokespersons gave conflicting characterizations of the target, in fact the bombs narrowly missed Indian military bases at Krishna Ghati, Nangi Tekri, Narian and elsewhere. Pakistan claims the near misses were intentional, while India claims weapons launch was disrupted by intercepting Indian fighters.

Eight Indian air force jets (four Su-30s, two Mirage 2000s and two MiG-21s) pursued the Pakistani aircraft. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew his MiG-21 Bison, a 1950s-era Soviet jet with upgraded radar and weapons, across the LOC and launched a heat-seeking R-73 missile.

Simultaneously, Pakistani jets fired back two radar-guided missiles, hitting Abhinandan’s MiG-21. He successfully ejected from his stricken MiG. He was captured by Pakistani soldiers, who rescued him from a violent mob. A video of his interrogation while still bloodied was released by Pakistan, then taken down, followed by later footage suggesting improved treatment.

Pakistan maintains it did not lose any fighters, and that the kill was scored by a JF-17 of No. 14 squadron. However, India shared with media fragments from an AIM-120C-5 radar-guided missile delivered from the United States, which is only likely to have been integrated on Pakistani F-16s.

Some witnesses on the ground reported seeing two aircraft hit and multiple parachutes. On February 28, unconfirmed reports claimed Abhinandan’s missile had hit a Pakistani two-seat F-16B, whose pilot ejected with mortal injuries. However, there so far is no photographic evidence confirming a downed F-16.

Indian and Pakistani ground forces are also exchanging tank and artillery fire across the LOC, injuring and killing civilians and soldiers on both sides. Sadly, such artillery duels have been routine for decades.

Aerial skirmishes might easily have continued. Instead, on February 28 Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced he would release Wing Commander Vathraman as a gesture of goodwill. This conciliatory move was carried out the following day, and will hopefully bring an end to the current cycle of escalation.

Back from the Brink—For Now

The non-catastrophic resolution of the crisis-du-jour should not inspire misguided confidence that nuclear deterrence will inevitably prevent a war.

Recent history leaves one with every reason to believe the circumstances which caused the recent spiraling escalation are likely to repeat themselves again and again.

For one, the recent crisis made clear that resurgent nationalist and religious sentiment in India and Pakistan created popular support for conflict escalation. Terrorist attacks, air strikes and downed jets are experienced as slaps to national honor demanding violent retaliation.

Thus, Modi and Khan face a perverse risk/reward dilemma. Escalate a little, and they score a domestic political point, improving their odds of reelection. Escalate too much and mushroom clouds could start sprouting over the landscape.

Worse, Pakistan’s civilian government cannot necessarily control the violence it is accountable for. True, Pakistan hosts and sponsors JeM, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other organizations that have perpetrated brutal attacks on Indian soil, such as the Mumbai hotel attack in 2008 and the Indian Parliament attack in 2001.

But that supported is from the military and intelligence services. The civilian Prime Minister lacks political incentives to halt such activities, which are popular with powerful religious hardliner factions. Furthermore, the Pakistani military has repeatedly undermined or outright overthrown civilian leaders that cross it.

However, while Pakistan has instigated past rounds of fighting such as the Kargil War in 1999. Moreover, the current surge of violence in Kashmir, begun in 2016, originated on Indian soil with the killing of popular local rebel leader Burhan Wani. The Indian Army’s history of human rights abuses and brutal episodes of sexual violence have weakened perceived legitimacy of Indian rule amongst Kashmiri Muslims, only 3-6 percent of whom turned out to vote in recent elections.

This means neither India nor Pakistan can entirely prevent violence that could potentially lead to nuclear escalation.

To avoid further nuclear showdowns, Pakistan must cease sponsoring and hosting terrorist groups in stark violation of international norms. And India must create conditions for governance in Kashmir that enjoys genuine local legitimacy for both Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus.

Obviously, such changes run against the grain of powerful domestic political forces in both countries. But without change, attacks by Pakistani-linked groups on Indian soil are likely to continue occurring, and a rising India will grow increasingly more inclined to retaliate militarily, tit-for-tat.

If the two nations keep on taking each other to the brink time after time, one incident or another could eventually carry them over it.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Image: Reuters

The Rising of the German Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

At Germany’s last nuclear base, fears of a new arms race as U.S.-Russia treaty collapses

By Griff Witte

March 4, 2019 at 9:54 AM

Elke Koller stands on the “peace law” outside the Büchell air base. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

BÜCHEL, Germany —The home Elke Koller chose for her retirement has horse pastures and bird song, a tranquil garden where her grandchildren love to play and views that stretch for miles across the green hills of western Germany’s Eifel region. 

It is also close enough to a stash of nuclear weapons that should they detonate, it would all be vaporized within seconds.

“It’s so nice here. I didn’t know about the bombs. They were secret,” said Koller, a gray-haired former pharmacist. “When I found out, I thought, ‘The military doesn’t need them anymore. They’ll be gone within a few years.’” 

But that was nearly a quarter-century ago, in the heady post-Cold War days when the fearsome nuclear arsenal arrayed across Europe appeared destined to become a relic. Now, far from disappearing, those weapons could proliferate.

With the Trump administration’s decision last month to ditch the treaty that ended an era-defining standoff — and with Russia following suit — the prospect of a nuclear arms race is back. And so is the debate over whether Europe should host more American weapons of mass destruction.

The last remaining U.S. bombs in Europe are stored in Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. France and Britain remain nuclear powers, too, although they have vastly reduced their arsenals.

Across the continent, there is little public appetite for escalation. A request from the United States to store and be ready to use new bombs and missiles would likely spark a furious backlash, while exposing fractures in an alliance already strained by the mistrust between President Trump and his European counterparts. Meanwhile, Russia could menace the continent and exploit divisions in the West.

“The current situation is very clear: Besides the Poles and maybe one or two others, nobody in Europe would be willing to deploy additional midrange nuclear weapons,” said Otfried Nassauer, an arms control expert with the Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security. 

A German “Tornado” fighter aircraft prepares to land at the Büchel air base. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

So far, the United States hasn’t asked. Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty last month, citing allegations that Russia had violated the landmark 1987 agreement stipulating that neither nation would deploy land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Moscow pulled out the next day. (Unlike missiles, bombs were never covered by the INF Treaty.)

Technically, the two nations have the next five months to try to salvage the deal. But no one is very optimistic. 

A renewed weapons race between the world’s two great nuclear powers would contribute to an already grim global picture for advocates of disarmament, with the Iran nuclear deal on the verge of breaking down, talks with North Korea at a standstill and India and Pakistan trading fire. 

It would also add back to the nuclear chessboard a continent that for decades lived under the threat of an apocalyptic exchange but that more recently seemed to have little to fear from the world’s most devastating weapons.

Artwork by Otto Pankok is among the installations on the “peace lawn” outside the Büchel air base. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

The last time Washington was building up its arsenal, in the 1980s, Western European governments were willing to host weapons systems as protection against a Soviet empire that dominated half the continent, leaving them on the front lines of a standoff between superpowers.

Their populations weren’t always so acquiescent, however. The stationing of thousands of nuclear missiles across Europe spawned mass protests. A half-million people converged on Bonn, West Germany, in what were the largest demonstrations in that short-lived nation’s history. The controversy contributed to the collapse of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s government. 

The United States and Russia signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, but they’ve never fully trusted one another to abide by it. Now, they’re preparing to walk away from it entirely. (William Neff/The Washington Post)

The signing of the INF Treaty by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev threw the nuclear buildup into a rapid reverse, with missiles withdrawn and destroyed. By the time the Soviet Union fell apart three years later, the nuclear threat in Europe had dramatically receded.

The 20 nuclear bombs stored at a joint U.S.-German air base in the tiny town of Büchel are largely an afterthought.

“When I say to people that I live near atomic bombs, they say, ‘No, it’s a lie. Germany has no atomic bombs,’ ” said Koller, the retired pharmacist. 

Demonstrations against the hosting of nuclear weapons have been growing in Büchell. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

The presence of the weapons has never been officially acknowledged by the U.S. military that owns them, nor the German military that has been entrusted to use them. 

But it is not denied, either, and it is an open secret. Each morning and afternoon, German Tornados — the fighter jets that would carry the bombs to their target in the event of a decision to attack — streak the skies above Koller’s home. 

Koller had owned the house for years — with plans to retire there — long before the existence of the weapons became widely known, in the mid-1990s. Ever since, she has been campaigning for their removal, demonstrating outside the base hundreds of times. 

It has been a somewhat lonely struggle. In a politically conservative region that relies on the German military to provide jobs and boost the economy, her neighbors may occasionally give a furtive thumb’s up. But they have been reluctant to provide open support. 

Some have been hostile. 

“When I go to a bar, people say to me, ‘You people are crazy. You’re destroying our jobs,’ ” said Rüdiger Lancelle, a 79-year-old retired teacher and longtime antinuclear activist. “They don’t want to recognize that atomic weapons are a threat to all of humanity.”

And yet, there are signs that concern is rising, as the treaties that have constrained nuclear proliferation for decades fall away. 

The protests outside the base at Büchel have been growing. Organizers say a demonstration planned for Easter Monday will be the biggest one yet, with younger protesters injecting new energy into a movement that had been dominated by senior citizens. 

Rüdiger Lancelle has demonstrated for more than 20 years against nuclear weapons. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

“For my generation, nuclear war is something that seems very far away. But it isn’t,” said Clara Tempel, 23. 

Tempel will be going to jail for a week later this month after infiltrating the base during a protest last year. In response to the breach, the German military is constructing a taller and more forbidding security fence, to the tune of about $12 million.

Trump has helped to galvanize the antinuclear movement in Germany. The U.S. president is widely disliked — just 10 percent of Germans say they trust him to do the right thing in world affairs — and the idea that he is the ultimate commander of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has added to unease with American weapons on German soil. 

“Nuclear rearmament has a very bad taste in Germany,” said Christian Mölling, a defense expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations. “And Trump is the focal point, the caricature to which everyone can point.”

In Germany’s 2017 election, the center-left Social Democrats attempted to capitalize on that feeling, campaigning on a pledge to get rid of the weapons at Büchel.

Now the junior party in a coalition government, they have indicated they will oppose any attempt to deploy nuclear missiles in Germany. The ruling Christian Democrats have been more vague, saying all options remain open.

For now, at least, the status quo seems to be holding. And that’s okay with Walter Schmitz, mayor of Cochem, the castle and vineyard-strewn tourist mecca that is the nearest town of any significant size to the Büchel air base.

The town’s 5,000-plus residents are a mere 20-minute drive from the base. But Schmitz said there are no contingency plans in the event of a nuclear accident or explosion — and no need for any. 

A sign reads “Military Security Zone! Trespassing Prohibited! Warning, Firearms in use!” outside the Büchel air base. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

The base is well secured, and the chance of attack is remote — thanks in part to the nuclear weapons that have helped, he said, to deter major war in Europe for 70-plus years.

“Fundamentally, atomic weapons are a bad thing. They’re destructive, and we should be getting rid of them,” said Schmitz, whose town was heavily damaged in both world wars.

But as long as adversaries have them, he said, it makes sense for Western allies to, as well. 

“That,” he said, “is the price of peace.”

Luisa Beck contributed to this report.

The Next Major Quake: The Sixth Seal of NYC

New York is overdue an earthquake from faults under city

New York is OVERDUE an earthquake from a ‘brittle grid’ of faults under the city, expert warns

• New York City last experienced a M5 or higher earthquake in 1884, experts say

• It’s thought that these earthquakes occur on a roughly 150-year periodicity 

• Based on this, some say the city could be overdue for the next major quake 

By Cheyenne Macdonald For

Published: 15:50 EDT, 1 September 2017 | Updated: 12:00 EDT, 2 September 2017

When you think of the impending earthquake risk in the United States, it’s likely California or the Pacific Northwest comes to mind.

But, experts warn a system of faults making up a ‘brittle grid’ beneath New York City could also be loading up for a massive temblor.

The city has been hit by major quakes in the past, along what’s thought to be roughly 150-year intervals, and researchers investigating these faults now say the region could be overdue for the next event.

Experts warn a system of faults making up a ‘brittle grid’ beneath New York City could also be loading up for a massive temblor. The city has been hit by major quakes in the past, along what’s thought to be roughly 150-year intervals. A stock image is pictured


On August 10, 1884, New York was struck by a magnitude 5.5 earthquake with an epicentre located in Brooklyn.

While there was little damage and few injuries reported, anecdotal accounts of the event reveal the frightening effects of the quake.

One newspaper even reported that it caused someone to die from fright.

According to a New York Times report following the quake, massive buildings, including the Post Office swayed back and forth.

And, police said they felt the Brooklyn Bridge swaying ‘as if struck by a hurricane,’ according to an adaptation of Kathryn Miles’ book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake.

The rumbles were felt across a 70,000-square-mile area, causing broken windows and cracked walls as far as Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

The city hasn’t experienced an earthquake this strong since.

According to geologist Dr Charles Merguerian, who has walked the entirety of Manhattan to assess its seismicity, there are a slew of faults running through New York, reports author Kathryn Miles in an adaptation of her new book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake.

One such fault passes through 125th street, otherwise known as the Manhattanville Fault.

While there have been smaller quakes in New York’s recent past, including a magnitude 2.6 that struck in October 2001, it’s been decades since the last major tremor of M 5 or more.

And, most worryingly, the expert says there’s no way to predict exactly when a quake will strike.

‘That’s a question you really can’t answer,’ Merguerian has explained in the past.

‘All we can do is look at the record, and the record is that there was a relatively large earthquake here in the city in 1737, and in 1884, and that periodicity is about 150 year heat cycle.

‘So you have 1737, 1884, 20- and, we’re getting there. But statistics can lie.

‘An earthquake could happen any day, or it couldn’t happen for 100 years, and you just don’t know, there’s no way to predict.’

Compared the other parts of the United States, the risk of an earthquake in New York may not seem as pressing.

But, experts explain that a quake could happen anywhere.

According to geologist Dr Charles Merguerian, there are a slew of faults running through NY. One is the Ramapo Fault

‘All states have some potential for damaging earthquake shaking,’ according to the US Geological Survey.

‘Hazard is especially high along the west coast but also in the intermountain west, and in parts of the central and eastern US.’

A recent assessment by the USGS determined that the earthquake hazard along the East Coast may previously have been underestimated.

‘The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,’ the USGS report explained.

The experts point to a recent example – the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011, which was among the largest to occur on the east coast in the last century.

This event suggests the area could be subjected to even larger earthquakes, even raising the risk for Charleston, SC.

It also indicates that New York City may be at higher risk than once thought.

A recent assessment by the USGS determined that the earthquake hazard along the East Coast may previously have been underestimated. The varying risks around the US can be seen above, with New York City in the mid-range (yellow).

Measure Those Who Worship in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1)

US Shutters Its Consulate in Jerusalem, Angering Palestinians

Last updated on: March 04, 2019 2:20 AM

VOA News

FILE – Palestinian activist place a t-shirt with a logo representing their statehood bid at the UN underneath the US Consulate sign during a small pro-state rally, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel.

The United States is shutting down its consulate in Jerusalem, which served the Palestinians, and will merge its entire diplomatic mission to the new embassy starting Monday.

“It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip,” the State Department said in a statement released Sunday. “This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in October. It infuriated the Palestinians who see closing the office that served them and moving it to the embassy as another sign of the Trump administration’s pro-Israel bias.

Senior Palestinian Saab Ekekat called the decision “the final nail in the coffin” for the U.S. as a Middle East peacemaker.

But, as the State Department said, the move changes nothing and said the “efficiency and effectiveness” of its critical work helping all in Israel will be enhanced by a larger team of diplomats.

Palestinians were outraged when the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, calling it a recognition of the city as the capital of a Jewish state.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. They say Jerusalem’s status should be determined by peace talks.

The State Department said President Donald Trump takes no position on final status issues and remains fully committed to efforts toward a lasting peace between Jews and Palestinians.

The First Nuclear War and Winter (Revelation 8)

Deadly tensions between India and Pakistan are boiling over in Kashmir, a disputed territory at the northern border of each country.

A regional conflict is worrisome enough, but climate scientists warn that if either country launches just a portion of its nuclear weapons, the situation might escalate into a global environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

On February 14, a suicide bomber killed at least 40 Indian troops in a convoy travelling through Kashmir. A militant group based in Pakistan called Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. India responded by launching airstrikes against its neighbour – the first in roughly 50 years – and Pakistan has said it shot down two Indian fighter jets and captured one of the pilots.

Pakistani Kashmiris rally against India in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Both countries possess about 140 to 150 nuclear weapons. Though nuclear conflict is unlikely, Pakistani leaders have said their military is preparing for “all eventualities.” The country has also assembled its group responsible for making decisions on nuclear strikes.

“This is the premier nuclear flashpoint in the world,” Ben Rhodes, a political commentator, said on Wednesday’s episode of the “Pod Save the World” podcast.

In this image made from video provided by PTV, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman walks to cross the border into India, in Wagah, Pakistan.

For that reason, climate scientists have modelled how an exchange of nuclear weapons between the two countries – what is technically called a limited regional nuclear war – might affect the world.

Though the explosions would be local, the ramifications would be global, that research concluded. The ozone layer could be crippled and Earth’s climate may cool for years, triggering crop and fishery losses that would result in what the researchers called a “global nuclear famine.”

“The danger of nuclear winter has been under-understood – poorly understood – by both policymakers and the public,” Michael Mills, a researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Business Insider. “It has reached a point where we found that nuclear weapons are largely unusable because of the global impacts.”

An Indian waves a national flag as others shout slogans while they wait to welcome the captured Indian pilot home at the India-Pakistan border.

A ‘small’ nuclear war’s impact

When a nuclear weapon explodes, its effects extend beyond the structure-toppling blast wave, blinding fireball, and mushroom cloud. Nuclear detonations close to the ground, for example, can spread radioactive debris called fallout for hundreds of kilometres.

But the most frightening effect is intense heat that can ignite structures for miles around. Those fires, if they occur in industrial areas or densely populated cities, can lead to a frightening phenomenon called a firestorm.

India has banned Jama'at-e-Islami, a political-religious group in Kashmir, in a sweeping and ongoing crackdown against activists seeking the end of Indian rule in the disputed region.

“These firestorms release many times the energy stored in nuclear weapons themselves,” Mills said. “They basically create their own weather and pull things into them, burning all of it.”

Mills helped model the outcome of an India-Pakistan nuclear war in a 2014 study. In that scenario, each country exchanges 50 weapons, less than half of its arsenal. Each of those weapons is capable of triggering a Hiroshima-size explosion, or about 15 kilotons’ worth of TNT.

The model suggested those explosions would release about 5 million tons of smoke into the air, triggering a decades-long nuclear winter.

In this September 6, 1965, file photo, Indian troops are on the move in Kashmir against guerrilla forces during the second war over Kashmir. The 2019 standoff between India and Pakistan is their latest in a long dispute over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, dating back to their independence in 1947.

The effects of this nuclear conflict would eliminate 20 per cent to 50 per cent of the ozone layer over populated areas. Surface temperatures would become colder than they have been for at least 1000 years.

The bombs in the researchers’ scenario are about as powerful as the Little Boy nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, enough to devastate a city. But that’s far weaker than many weapons that exist today. The latest device North Korea tested was estimated to be about 10 times as powerful as Little Boy. The US and Russia each possess weapons 1000 times as powerful.

Still, the number of weapons used is more important than strength, according to the calculations in this study.

How firestorms would wreck the climate

Most of the smoke in the scenario the researchers considered would come from firestorms that would tear through buildings, vehicles, fuel depots, vegetation, and more. This smoke would rise through the troposphere (the atmospheric zone closest to the ground), and particles would then be deposited in a higher layer called the stratosphere. From there, tiny black-carbon aerosols could spread around the globe.

“The lifetime of a smoke particle in the stratosphere is about five years. In the troposphere, the lifetime is one week,”Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University who worked on the study, told Business Insider. “So in the stratosphere, the lifetime of smoke particles is much longer, which gives it 250 times the impact.”

The fine soot would cause the stratosphere, normally below freezing, to be dozens of degrees warmer than usual for five years. It would take two decades for conditions to return to normal.

This would cause ozone loss “on a scale never observed,” the study said. That ozone damage would consequently allow harmful amounts of ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach the ground, hurting crops and humans, harming ocean plankton, and affecting vulnerable species all over the planet.

But it gets worse: Earth’s ecosystems would also be threatened by suddenly colder temperatures.

The fine black soot in the stratosphere would prevent some sun from reaching the ground. The researchers calculated that average temperatures around the world would drop by about 1.5 degrees Celsius over the five years following the nuclear blasts.

In populated areas of North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, changes could be more extreme (as illustrated in the graphic above). Winters there would be about 2.5 degrees colder and summers between 1 and 4 degrees colder, reducing critical growing seasons by 10 to 40 days. Expanded sea ice would also prolong the cooling process, since ice reflects sunlight away.

“It’d be cold and dark and dry on the ground, and that would affect plants,” Robock said. “This is something everybody should be concerned about because of the potential global effects.”

The change in ocean temperatures could devastate sea life and fisheries that much of the world relies on for food. Such sudden blows to the food supply and the “ensuing panic” could cause “a global nuclear famine,” according to the study’s authors.

Temperatures wouldn’t return to normal for more than 25 years.

Effects may be worse than expected

Robock is working on new models of nuclear-winter scenarios; his team was awarded a nearly $US3 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to do so.

“You’d think the Department of Defence and the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies would fund this research, but they didn’t and had no interest,” he said.

Since his earlier modelling work, Robock said, the potential effects of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan have gotten worse. That’s because India and Pakistan now have more nuclear weapons, and their cities have grown.

“It could be about five times worse than what we’ve previously calculated,” he said.

Because of his intimate knowledge of the potential consequences, Robock advocates the reduction of nuclear arsenals around the world. He said he thinks Russia and the US – which has nearly 7000 nuclear weapons – are in a unique position to lead the way.

“Why don’t the US and Russia each get down to 200? That’s a first step,” Robock said.

“If President Trump wants the Nobel Peace Prize, he should get rid of land-based missiles, which are on hair-trigger alert, because we don’t need them,” he added. “That’s how he’ll get a peace prize – not by saying we have more than anyone else.”

This story was originally published on Business Insider.