Nuclear War Could Mean ‘Extinction of the Human Race’


A war using even a small percentage of the world’s nuclear weapons threatens the lives of two billion people, a new report warns.

“A nuclear war using only a fraction of existing arsenals would produce massive casualties on a global scale–far more than we had previously believed,” said Dr. Ira Helfand. (Photo: jonathan mcintosh/cc/flickr) The findings in the report issued by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) are based on studies by climate scientists that show how nuclear war would alter the climate and agriculture, thereby threatening one quarter of the world’s population with famine.

Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk? offers an updated edition to the groups’ April of 2012 report, which the groups say “may have seriously underestimated the consequences of a limited nuclear war.”

“A nuclear war using only a fraction of existing arsenals would produce massive casualties on a global scale–far more than we had previously believed,” Dr. Ira Helfand, the report’s author and IPPNW co-president, said in a statement.

As their previous report showed, years after even a limited nuclear war, production of corn in the U.S. and China’s middle season rice production would severely decline, and fears over dwindling food supplies would lead to hoarding and increases in food prices, creating further food insecurity for those already reliant on food imports.

The updated report adds that Chinese winter wheat production would plummet if such a war broke out. Based on information from new studies combining reductions in wheat, corn and rice, this new edition doubles the number of people they expect to be threatened by nuclear-war induced famine to over two billion.

“The prospect of a decade of widespread hunger and intense social and economic instability in the world’s largest country has immense implications for the entire global community, as does the possibility that the huge declines in Chinese wheat production will be matched by similar declines in other wheat producing countries,” Helfand stated.

The crops would be impacted, the report explains, citing previous studies, because of the black carbon particles that would be released, causing widespread changes like cooling temperatures, decreased precipitation and decline in solar radiation.

In this scenario of famine, epidemics of infectious diseases would be likely, the report states, and could lead to armed conflict. From the report:

Within nations where famine is widespread, there would almost certainly be food riots, and competition for limited food resources might well exacerbate ethnic and regional animosities. Among nations, armed conflict would be a very real possibility as states dependent on imports attempted to maintain access to food supplies.

While a limited nuclear war would bring dire circumstances, the impacts if the world’s biggest nuclear arms holders were involved would be even worse. “With a large war between the United States and Russia, we are talking about the possible –not certain, but possible–extinction of the human race,” Helfand told Agence-France Presse.

“In order to eliminate this threat, we must eliminate nuclear weapons,” Helfand stated. (Photo: MAPWcommunications/cc/flickr)“In this kind of war, biologically there are going to be people surviving somewhere on the planet but the chaos that would result from this will dwarf anything we’ve ever seen,” Helfand told the news agency.

As Helfand writes, the data cited in the report “raises a giant red flag about the threat to humanity posed.”

Yet, as Dr. Peter Wilk, former national executive director of PSR writes in an op-ed today, the “threat is of our own creation.”

As a joint statement by 124 states delivered to the United Nations General Assembly in October stated: “It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.”

“Countries around the world–those who are nuclear-armed and those who are not–must work together to eliminate the threat and consequences of nuclear war,” Helfand said.

“In order to eliminate this threat, we must eliminate nuclear weapons.”


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Source: Common Dreams

  • robertsgt40

    Who needs a nuclear war when we have Fukushima? Might just take a bit longer.

    • Fennig

      My thoughts exactly! What’s the point in talking about how a hypothetical nuclear war “could” mean the extinction of the human race, when we already have a completely out of control nuclear disaster that’s releasing the equivalent to hundreds of nuclear bombs each and every day?

  • Tucker

    Someone needs to make a few dozen copies of this sobering article, preferably printed on the coarsest level of sandpaper available – then roll these copies up into a tight ball and shove one up the rectums of: Duncan Hunter, Lindsay Graham, Juan ‘bomb, bomb, bomb. Iran’ McInsane, John Bolton, Michele Bachman, Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, and Bibi Netanyahu.

    BTW: The mere idea of dropping bombs on an up & running nuclear power facility – which most of the imbeciles on the prior list of names have all repeatedly advocated doing – is far outside the scope of the definition of simple insanity. Fukushima has clearly shown what the consequences of such an irresponsible, pathologically insane act of criminal stupidity would be for the entire world – but, amazingly, this collection of brain dead morons appear to have no clue or the slightest degree of comprehension or concern for the global-wide destruction of what their insanity would cause to occur.

    Could someone please tell me: How did such imbeciles manage to rise to the levels of power and influence that they currently occupy? These idiots belong inside an insane asylum, forced to wear a straight-jacket 24/7, and fed through a tube – and not allowed to roam around freely in society.

    • TT

      OH…………….Hell YES

  • rollsthepaul

    The nuclear option has already been removed by ET’s. There are plans for Earth and killing the populace and contaminating huge amounts of the planet, are not part of the plans. TPTB are desperate but are in their death throws. We can expect very rough times but TPTB are finished and will not be reincarnating back to Earth.

    • Fennig

      I’d like to believe that’s true, but these supposed ETs if they exist and are watching, have been letting the planet be poisoned with massive amounts of nuclear fallout for nearly three years now. If there was going to be alien intervention, it would have happened already. Even if Fukushima was magically solved right now and no further radiation was released, what’s already been put out into the oceans and atmosphere is a threat to life as we know it. Sorry, but I don’t think the ETs are gonna bail us out on this, as much as I wish it were true