More than 10 crore people will die across the neighbours if a nuclear war breaks out between India and Pakistan, and that’s just the first impact!
As per a new study published by the US’ Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the journal Science Advances, more than 10 crore people would die from a nuclear war if one breaks out between India and Pakistan. And that’s just in the immediate aftermath, which will be followed by global mass starvation, and climatic deterioration that could result in sudden break down of world order.
The study at Rutgers University observes that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan will result in the instant death of more than 10 crore people.
India and Pakistan are the two biggest nations in South Asia, with an intricately tied past and future. They are also two ends of a dangerous triangle of Nuclear-powered geo-politics that rules more than half of Asia’s entire population. India and Pakistan have been engaged in bitter enmity since the bloody partition that created the two nations, perpetually at war. The study observes the scenario if it turns into a much-dreaded war by 2025 between India and Pakistan.
India and Pakistan’s Nuclear Abilities and Intentions
The study cites that India and Pakistan combined could boast up to 400 to 500 nuclear warheads in their arsenals by 2025. As per the researchers at Rutgers, the size of Nuclear Bombs at the disposal of India and Pakistan by 2025 could span from 15 kilotons in explosive power (Similar to the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945) to few hundred kilotons.
As per Alan Robock, co-author of the study, among the 9 nations that have nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan are the ones rapidly increasing their nuclear arsenals. Any type of nuclear exchange between the neighbours will prove fatal to approximately 5 to 12.5 crore people. Further, mass starvation in the aftermath could cause thousands of deaths.
Moreover, the nuclear explosions would release around 1.6 crore to 3.6 crore tons of black carbon particles apart from a dreaded nuclear fallout. The soot would rise to the upper layers of the atmosphere and spread around the globe in weeks.
Impact on Climate and Thawing of Global Order
As per Robock, the effects of such a war will not be limited to the locations where bombs are dropped by would be catastrophic globally. The rising carbon soot would increase solar radiation absorption significantly and heat up the air. With the upper atmosphere blocked by dense smoke, sunlight reaching the surface would decrease by 20 to 35 percent. This would cause the surface temperature to go down by 2 to 5 degrees Celsius.
Furthermore, the climatic impact would include a reduction in global rainfall by 15 to 30 percent. This would cause global vegetative growth to decrease by 15 to 30 percent on land. Similarly, oceans would see diminished flora and fauna growth by 5 to 15 percent. The dense soot-filled upper atmosphere will be slow in getting back to normal levels and the effects would last more than a decade.
Why the Study: how close are India and Pakistan to War?
India and Pakistan have fought over Kashmir on numerous occasions in the past. The relations between the two paranoid neighbours are at a new low since the beginning of 2019. Recent events like the February Pulwama – Balakot fiasco and India’s revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir, have heightened the tensions between the states. The political leaders in both nations have been treading a thin line in the recent past.
A month ago, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan played nuclear black gammon when he said the current tensions could head towards a conventional war between the two nuclear-armed nations, leading to global consequence. Khan said that if a war happens, “We’ll fight till the last drop of blood… All parties will lose that war.” Similarly, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently said that although India currently follows a policy of ‘no-first-use’, whatever happens in the future, “will depend on circumstances”.
India and Pakistan became the first two nuclear-armed nations in history to indulge in air combat in February.
As per Robock, the recent breakdown of relationships is the reason behind the study. However, Robock also noted that the probability of states using nuclear weapons is unthinkable in a ‘rational scenario’. Circumstances that could trigger a nuclear clash could be ‘go-ahead by accident’, ‘result of a hacking’ or paranoia from ‘deranged world leaders’.