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Mon Jul 8, 2013, 10:04 AM

AGU Chapman Conference: Nuclear Winter - Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

Last edited Fri Jul 12, 2013, 11:31 AM - Edit history (1)



AGU Chapman Conference on Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future

Presenter: Alan Robock

Session: New and Bleeding Edge Topics in Climate Science I

Abstract Title: Trying to Tell the World about Nuclear Winter -- Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

As difficult as it is to communicate to the world about global warming, I have found it even harder to communicate about the climatic consequences of nuclear war. It is not that there is an active disinformation campaign against our work. It is rather that it is just ignored.

New research by myself, Brian Toon, Mike Mills, and colleagues over the past six years has found that a nuclear war between any two countries, such as India and Pakistan, using 50 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs each could produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history. This is less than 0.05% of the explosive power of the current global arsenal.

We also found that a nuclear war between the United States and Russia today, or even after reductions planned for 2017 under the New START treaty, could produce nuclear winter, with temperatures plunging below freezing in the summer in major agricultural regions, threatening the food supply for most of the planet.

The clear policy implication is that we need to rid the world of nuclear weapons much faster than is now happening. Despite peer-reviewed publications in major journals, including Science, Nature, PNAS, JGR, ACP, Climatic Change, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and articles in encyclopedias, Scientific American, and Physics Today, there so far have been no policy responses from nuclear nations.

There has been a webpage for several years with all the information on our work at http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/nuclear/ , and I give many talks on the subject and have even begun using Twitter. We gave a briefing in Congress a couple years ago, and wrote to the President's Science Advisor. But there has been no response or even acknowledgment of the work. The subject is difficult to deal with for many, and it feels better to just ignore it and hope it goes away. Numerous attempts to write op-eds in major newspapers have failed, and policy journals will not consider articles. Any suggestions as to how to proceed will be most welcome.

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Reply AGU Chapman Conference: Nuclear Winter - Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt (Original post)
bananas Jul 2013 OP
bananas Jul 2013 #1
AtheistCrusader Jul 2013 #2
bananas Jul 2013 #3
AtheistCrusader Jul 2013 #4

Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Jul 8, 2013, 10:06 AM

1. More videos from the conference

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Jul 8, 2013, 12:00 PM

2. This guy's smoke model has to be wrong on the India/Pakistan exchange scenario.

Simply has to be. History itself says it's wrong.

Russia detonated a single above ground bomb far in excess of 100 15kt weapons. 58 megatons. 1,400x the combined power of both bombs used on Japan in WWII, more than 10% of the total yield of all above ground nuclear testing in the last 70 years, from Trinity on to present day.

So, in light of that, the 'half arsenal' scenario for India and Pakistan is clearly wrong. Tsar Bomba unleashed approximately 1/4 the total energy of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. Krakatoa had the sort of impact he's talking about, which Tsar Bomba didn't cause, and the hypothetical exchange between India and Pakistan is a tiny fraction of that single detonation.


That said, such an exchange is likely to spiral badly, and probably lead to more use of nuclear weapons, so obviously a bad thing, beyond the many millions that would die as a result of that single hypothetical exchange. But you simply cannot exaggerate an event like that, in this manner. Humans have done it already, far, far worse than this hypothetical.

The India/Pakistan example is spread over a broad area, but it's only 1.5 megatons total yield. Tsar Bomba was 38x more powerful than that hypothetical 100 weapon exchange.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #2)

Tue Jul 9, 2013, 05:16 PM

3. Ash isn't from uranium in the bombs, it's from carbon in the megacities

If you nuke the ocean, you won't get a lot of ash.
You'll get a lot of water vapor, but not a lot of ash.
So you can't just compare megatons, you have to look at what's getting nuked.
Nuking the megacities of India and Pakistan will create huge firestorms which generate lots of ash and heat.

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Response to bananas (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 9, 2013, 05:46 PM

4. Tsar Bomba ashed a considerable chunk of forestland.

Not sure how that compares to said cities. Probably not favorably, I suppose.

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