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Nuclear famine: a danger shared by all

scenes of drought and other weather disasters would become more common with climate change from a nuclear conflict.
scenes of drought and other weather disasters would become more common with climate change from a nuclear conflict.
WFP/Amjad Jamal

It was Dwight Eisenhower who said, "if a danger exists in the world, it is a danger shared by all." Today, all nations must realize that the use of nuclear weapons, even in a regional conflict, could bring about global starvation.

A 2013 study on the effect of a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan revealed the consequences. Climate disruption would seriously impact food production around the world. The weather patterns would become more extreme leading to drought or even extreme cold in some areas. The growing of crops would be drastically reduced.

Currently there are 842 million people around the world suffering from hunger. That number would increase significantly after a nuclear conflict. The report states, "the number of people threatened by nuclear-war induced famine would be well over two billion." No one is really prepared for the chaos that would ensue.

A 1986 report from the National Academy of Sciences also examined the indirect effects of a nuclear between the United States and the Soviet Union. Such would be the devastating effect on the world food supply that more people would die in Africa than in Europe.

In Oslo, Norway a conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was also held last year. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations were present. These relief agencies have dealt with major disasters such as typhoons in the Philippines and the earthquake in Haiti. However, none of these tragedies would come anywhere close to the devastation a nuclear war would cause. The Australian Red Cross released a statement at that conference:

Nuclear fallout and its long term destructive nature mean that vast tracts of land would be unable to be used by humans for an indefinite period of time. Communities would cease to exist. The spread of radiation would not just affect the current generation but generations to come. The displacement of people would be an insurmountable global issue. Global mass starvation would be a very real possibility."

A plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons can avert this catastrophe. Negotiations between the nuclear states on disarmament would have to be undertaken. There is hope that the global treaty ending nuclear weapons testing (CTBT) can take effect soon. This would be a major step toward creating the conditions where nuclear disarmament can take place.

The stakes are higher than ever. The world can be plunged into darkness with a nuclear famine. That is a danger we all share, and one we can take action against.

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