Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

 

   By WILLIAM K. STEVENSPublished: October 24, 1989
AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.
The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.
But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.
For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”
If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California.Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.
Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.
The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”
On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.
Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.
The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.
No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.
The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.
The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.
Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.
Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 
Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California,  said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more  vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.
The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”
 Many brownstones, he said, constructed as they are of unreinforced masonry walls with wood joists between, ”would just go like a house of cards.” Unreinforced masonry, in fact, is the single most vulnerable structure, engineers say. Such buildings are abundant, even predominant, in many older cities. The Scawthorn-Harris study reviewed inventories of all buildings in Manhattan as of 1972 and found that 28,884, or more than half, were built of unreinforced masonry. Of those, 23,064 were three to five stories high.
Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.
Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.
”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.
New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.
Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.
As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.
New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.
”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”
For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.
”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”
In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.
Tunnels Vulnerable
The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.
Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.
”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”
Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?
”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

Babylon the Great shows her nuclear might: Danie

US submarine launches Trident II nuclear missiles in stunning show of strength

17:07 ET,

THE US Navy triumphantly test-launched Trident D5LE nuclear missiles on Friday in a stunning show of strength against China’s latest threats.

The scheduled two-missile deployment of the unarmed revamped weapon took place off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida from the USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) submarine. 

The impressive operation involving the Ohio-class ballistic missile warship was part of a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation, designated DASO-31.  

Its aim was to evaluate the strength of the ballistic missile submarine and its crew before it is sent out for operational deployment after the subs upgrades.

The Navy boasted of the “unmatched reliability” of the new “sea-based nuclear deterrent” as tensions continue to increase with China.

It was the 184th successful Trident II (D5 & D5LE) SWS missile test flight and follows the last launch in February this year off the coast of Florida.

Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Director of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, said: “Today’s test demonstrates the unmatched reliability of our sea-based nuclear deterrent, which is made possible by a dedicated team of military, civilian and industry partners who bring expertise and dedication to the mission that is truly extraordinary.

“This same team is now developing the next generation of the Trident Strategic Weapon System, which will extend our sea-based strategic deterrent through 2084,” he continued.

The Iranian nuclear Horn back in spotlight: Daniel 8

Iran's nuclear programme back in spotlight
Iran President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran’s nuclear programme back in spotlight

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2021, 04:19 PM IST

Tehran’s nuclear programme is back under the spotlight as the UN’s atmomic energy watchdog holds its annual general conference and Iran‘s new ultraconservative president, Ebrahim Raisi, marks his international debut by addressing the UN General Assembly.

Negotiations to revive a 2015 landmark agreement with world powers that curbed Iran’s nuclear power are at a standstill, while Tehran continues to step up its activities, according to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report.

Which limits did Tehran breach?
Under the 2015 deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium above 3.67 percent, well below the 90-percent threshold needed for use in a nuclear weapon.

INSTALL ET APPIn addition, it was only allowed to have a stockpile of 202.8 kilogrammes in total — equivalent to 300 kilogrammes in a particular compound form.

But since May 2019, Iran has announced successive breaches of the deal in reaction to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 and the reimposition of harsh sanctions on Iran.

According to the latest report, Iran has now amassed a stockpile of 2,441.3 kilogrammes.

The total amount now includes 84.3 kilogrammes enriched to 20 percent, as well as 10 kilogrammes enriched up to 60 percent.

In addition, it has started producing uranium metal, “a key material used to make nuclear weapon cores, under a civil use pretext,” according to Andrea Stricker, co-author of a recent report of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran promised not to produce the metal.

It has also made more progress operating advanced centrifuges — machines used for uranium enrichment — than it had prior to the 2015 deal.

“Iran has made irreversible progress on advanced centrifuges and on enrichment including practising multi-step enrichment to shorten the process of moving to weapon-grade,” Stricker told AFP.

How close is it to a nuclear bomb?
Iran denies wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities are purely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and treating cancer patients.

Under the 2015 deal, “breakout time” — the time needed to acquire the fissile material necessary for the manufacture of a bomb — was about a year.

But with the recent developments it is “much less”, according to a diplomat familiar with the matter.

“Enrichment to 60 percent could be around 99 percent of the effort to reach weapon-grade, which underscores the gravity of the situation,” Stricker told AFP, citing a colleague’s research, though she adds “there is no reason for hysteria”.

She noted that Iran currently had a lower stock of enriched uranium as it had prior to 2015 “when it had enough material for more than ten nuclear weapons”. 

“However, Iran’s nuclear programme is now much leaner and more agile than in 2015 due to progress with advanced centrifuges, which were not supposed to exist by this point” under the 2015 deal, she said.

What safeguards are in place?
Experts note Iran would also need to take other steps, besides enriching uranium, to have a bomb.

“Even if Iran produced enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, it would need to convert that material into the nuclear core, and package that with explosives and other components to make a nuclear device,” said Eric Brewer of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“Additional steps would be required to fit that device on top of a missile and have it work correctly,” he told AFP.

IAEA inspectors also regularly visit Iran. Their access has been reduced since earlier this year, but their monitoring activities would still “help it detect a dash to a nuclear weapon fairly quickly,” according to Brewer.

“The real challenge right now is that Iran’s expanded nuclear activities, in particular its use of advanced centrifuges, are creating knowledge that is hard to erase with a simple return to the nuclear deal,” he said.

The Chinese threatens the Australian nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

China picks on Australia after AUKUS pact, says Canberra ‘potential target for nuclear strike’

ANI |

Sep 19, 2021 04:30 IST

Beijing [China], September 19 (ANI): After the launch of the trilateral security partnership of AUKUSChina picked on Australia saying that Canberra is now “a potential target for a nuclear strike“.
A newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party says that Australia is now “a potential target for a nuclear strike” after launching the AUKUS pact with the US and UK to build nuclear-powered submarines, reported New York Post.
On Wednesday, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced a defence partnership dubbed AUKUS, which allows Australia to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines from the two partners.
The propaganda outlet published an article titled, “Nuke sub deal could make Australiapotential nuclear war target.”
The article said, “Chinese military experts warned that (AUKUS) will potentially make Australia a target of a nuclear strike if a nuclear war breaks out even when Washington said it won’t arm Canberra with nuclear weapons because it’s easy for the US to equip Australia with nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles when Australia has the submarines”, reported New York Post.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that AUKUS “seriously damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and undermines the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”
Zhao said, “China will pay close attention to the development of the AUKUS deal. Relevant countries should abandon their Cold War and zero-sum game mentality; otherwise, they will lift a rock that drops on their own feet”, reported New York Post.
The AUKUS initiative received an unexpectedly strong reaction this week from France, which owns island territories in the Pacific and Indian oceans. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio, “It is really a stab in the back.”
France is a nuclear energy pioneer and a NATO ally alongside the US and UK. The new deal caused a French company to lose work with Australia to build conventional submarines, reported New York Post.
In protest, France cancelled a Friday night gala in DC that was set to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the French navy’s victory in a battle that helped secure American independence. (ANI

The new Asian nuclear arms race: Daniel 7

North Korea says Australia’s submarine deal could trigger ‘nuclear arms race’

2:31 a.m. EDT

North Korea on Monday condemned a new defense pact by the United States, Australia and Britain, and a plan to share nuclear submarine technology with Australia, saying the deal could trigger a nuclear arms race and upset the balance in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Biden administration announced the three-nation pact, called AUKUS, on Wednesday. The surprise decision to share sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia has already prompted a swift backlash from China — the apparent target of the pact — and set off a diplomatic spatwith France by scuttling an earlier deal in which Australia would have purchased 12 French diesel-powered submarines.

“These are extremely undesirable and dangerous acts which will upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region and trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race,” North Korean state news media Korean Central News Agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying. “It is quite natural that neighboring countries including China condemned these actions as irresponsible ones of destroying the peace and stability of the region and the international nuclear nonproliferation system and of catalyzing the arms race,” the official added.

The North Korean condemnation comes just days after Pyongyang test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles and a new long-range cruise missile, stoking tensions in the first public testing activity in months amid a prolonged deadlock in nuclear talks with Washington. North Korea has so far not responded to outreach efforts by the Biden administration.

State media reported that North Korea developed the cruise missiles over two years, fulfilling key defense goals set by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — a claim that hinted at the possible nuclear capability of the missiles. KCNA described the missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance.”

South and North Korea have both been developing increasingly sophisticated weapons amid stalled efforts to ease tension on the peninsula. South Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday. In a commentary published Monday by state media, the chief of a North Korean military think tank, Jang Chang Ha, derided the South’s effort as “clumsy.”

In a statement on its defense plans last week, South Korea said that “the military will work to ensure security and peace on the Korean Peninsula by achieving powerful deterrence capabilities through the development of missiles that are stronger, and can go further and with more precision.”

Responding to news of the trilateral security pact on Monday, the unnamed North Korean ministry official described the United States as “the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear nonproliferation system,” adding that its “double-dealing attitude” was threatening “world peace and stability.”

The official said that North Korea will “certainly take a corresponding counteraction in case it has even a little adverse impact on the security of our country.”

Australia said last week it has “no plans to acquire nuclear weapons” and that the submarine proposal will “remain consistent with Australia’s long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation” — a global stance Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all three nations are committed to upholding.

Nuclear-powered submarines have a longer range, and they can travel underwater at a higher sustained speed, than their diesel-electric-powered equivalents. That could offer advantages in a head-to-head confrontation with the Chinese military, which has significantly grown its navy in recent years and plans to expand its fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

The First Nuclear War Between India and Pakistan Will Endanger the Entire World: Revelation 8

Nuclear War Between India and Pakistan Would Endanger the Entire World

Here’s What You Need to Remember: Taken together, these outcomes mean even a “limited” India-Pakistan nuclear war would significantly affect every person on the globe, be they a school teacher in Nebraska, a factory worker in Shaanxi province or a fisherman in Mombasa.

Between February 26 and 27 in 2019, Indian and Pakistani warplanes launched strikes on each other’s territory and engaged in aerial combat for the first time since 1971. Pakistan ominously hinted it was convening its National Command Authority, the institution which can authorize a nuclear strike.

The two states, which have retained an adversarial relationship since their founding in 1947, both deploy nuclear warheads that can be delivered by land, air and sea.

However, those weapons are inferior in number and yield to the thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by Russia and the United States, which include megaton-class weapons that can wipe out a metropolis in a single blast.

Some commenters have callously suggested that means a “limited regional nuclear war” would remain an Indian and Pakistani problem. People find it difficult to assess the risk of rare but catastrophic events; after all, a full-scale nuclear war has never occurred before, though it has come close to happening.

Such assessments are not only shockingly callous but shortsighted. In fact, several studies have modeled the global impact of a “limited” ten-day nuclear war in which India and Pakistan each exchange fifty 15-kiloton nuclear bombs equivalent in yield to the Little Boy uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Their findings concluded that spillover would in no way be “limited,” directly impacting people across the globe that would struggle to locate Kashmir on a map.

And those results are merely a conservative baseline, as India and Pakistan are estimated to possess over 260 warheads. Some likely have yields exceeding 15-kilotons, which is relatively small compared to modern strategic warheads.

Casualties

Recurring terrorist attacks by Pakistan-sponsored militant groups over the status of India’s Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state have repeatedly led to threats of conventional military retaliation by New Delhi.

Pakistan, in turn, maintains it may use nuclear weapons as a first-strike weapon to counter-balance India’s superior conventional forces. Triggers could involve the destruction of a large part of Pakistan’s military or penetration by Indian forces deep into Pakistani territory. Islamabad also claims it might authorize a strike in event of a damaging Indian blockade or political destabilization instigated by India.

India’s official policy is that it will never be first to strike with nuclear weapons—but that once any nukes are used against it, New Dehli will unleash an all-out retaliation.

The Little Boy bomb alone killed around 100,000 Japanese—between 30 to 40 percent of Hiroshima’s population—and destroyed 69 percent of the buildings in the city. But Pakistan and India host some of the most populous and densely populated cities on the planet, with population densities of Calcutta, Karachi and Mumbai at or exceeding 65,000 people per square mile. Thus, even low-yield bombs could cause tremendous casualties.

A 2014 study estimates that the immediate effects of the bombs—the fireball, over-pressure wave, radiation burns, etc.—would kill twenty million people. An earlier study estimated a hundred 15-kiloton nuclear detonations could kill twenty-six million in India and eighteen million in Pakistan—and concluded that escalating to using 100-kiloton warheads, which have greater blast radius and overpressure waves that can shatter hardened structures, would multiply death tolls four-fold.

Moreover, these projected body counts omit the secondary effects of nuclear blasts. Many survivors of the initial explosion would suffer slow, lingering deaths due to radiation exposure. The collapse of healthcare, transport, sanitation, water and economic infrastructure would also claim many more lives. A nuclear blast could also trigger a deadly firestorm. For instance, a firestorm caused by the U.S. napalm bombing of Tokyo in March 1945 killed more people than the Fat Man bomb killed in Nagasaki.

Refugee Outflows

The civil war in Syria caused over 5.6 million refugees to flee abroad out of a population of 22 million prior to the conflict. Despite relative stability and prosperity of the European nations to which refugees fled, this outflow triggered political backlashes that have rocked virtually every major Western government.

Now consider likely population movements in event of a nuclear war between India-Pakistan, which together total over 1.5 billion people. Nuclear bombings—or their even their mere potential—would likely cause many city-dwellers to flee to the countryside to lower their odds of being caught in a nuclear strike. Wealthier citizens, numbering in tens of millions, would use their resources to flee abroad.

Should bombs beginning dropping, poorer citizens many begin pouring over land borders such as those with Afghanistan and Iran for Pakistan, and Nepal and Bangladesh for India. These poor states would struggle to supports tens of millions of refugees. China also borders India and Pakistan—but historically Beijing has not welcomed refugees.

Some citizens may undertake risky voyages at sea on overloaded boats, setting their sights on South East Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Thousands would surely drown. Many regional governments would turn them back, as they have refugees of conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar in the past.

Fallout

Radioactive fallout would also be disseminated across the globe. The fallout from the Chernobyl explosion, for example, wounds its way westward from Ukraine into Western Europe, exposing 650,000 persons and contaminating 77,000 square miles. The long-term health effects of the exposure could last decades. India and Pakistan’s neighbors would be especially exposed, and most lack healthcare and infrastructure to deal with such a crisis.

Nuclear Winter

Studies in 2008 and 2014 found that of one hundred bombs that were fifteen-kilotons were used, it would blast five million tons of fine, sooty particles into the stratosphere, where they would spread across the globe, warping global weather patterns for the next twenty-five years.

The particles would block out light from the sun, causing surface temperatures to decrease an average of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit across the globe, or 4.5 degrees in North American and Europe. Growing seasons would be shortened by ten to forty days, and certain crops such as Canadian wheat would simply become unviable. Global agricultural yields would fall, leading to rising prices and famine.

The particles may also deplete between 30 to 50 percent of the ozone layer, allowing more of the sun’s radiation to penetrate the atmosphere, causing increased sunburns and rates of cancer and killing off sensitive plant life and marine plankton, with the spillover effect of decimating fishing yields.

To be clear, these are outcomes for a “light” nuclear winter scenario, not a full slugging match between the Russian and U.S. arsenals.

Global Recession

Any one of the factors above would likely suffice to cause a global economic recession. All of them combined would guarantee one.

India and Pakistan account for over one-fifth world’s population, and therefore a significant share of economic activity. Should their major cities become irradiated ruins with their populations decimated, a tremendous disruption would surely result. A massive decrease in consumption and production would obviously instigate a long-lasting recessionary cycle, with attendant deprivations and political destabilization slamming developed and less-developed countries alike.

Taken together, these outcomes mean even a “limited” India-Pakistan nuclear war would significantly affect every person on the globe, be they a school teacher in Nebraska, a factory worker in Shaanxi province or a fisherman in Mombasa.

Unfortunately, the recent escalation between India and Pakistan is no fluke, but part of a long-simmering pattern likely to continue escalating unless New Delhi and Islamabad work together to change the nature of their relationship.

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. This article was first published in 2019.

Image: Reuters