Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Gold vs Cash in a Financial Crisis - Richard_Mills
2.Current Stock Market Rally Similarities To 1999 - Chris_Vermeulen
3.America See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon - Part2 - James_Quinn
4.Stock Market Trend Forecast Outlook for 2020 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Who Said Stock Market Traders and Investor are Emotional Right Now? - Chris_Vermeulen
6.Gold Upswing and Lessons from Gold Tops - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Economic Tribulation is Coming, and Here is Why - Michael_Pento
8.What to Expect in Our Next Recession/Depression? - Raymond_Matison
9.The Fed Celebrates While Americans Drown in Financial Despair - John_Mauldin
10.Hi-yo Silver Away! - Richard_Mills
Last 7 days
NVIDIA (NVDA) GPU King For AI Mega-trend Tech Stocks Investing 2020 - 17th Feb 20
Stock Market Bubble - No One Gets Out Of Here Alive! - 17th Feb 20
British Pound GBP Trend Forecast 2020 - 16th Feb 20
SAMSUNG AI Mega-trend Tech Stocks Investing 2020 - 16th Feb 20
Ignore the Polls, the Markets Have Already Told You Who Wins in 2020 - 16th Feb 20
UK Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic WARNING! Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham Outbreaks Probable - 16th Feb 20
iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF IBB AI Mega-trend Tech Stocks Investing 2020 - 15th Feb 20
Gold Stocks Still Stalled - 15th Feb 20
Is The Technology Stocks Sector Setting Up For A Crash? - 15th Feb 20
UK Calm Before Corona Virus Storm - Infections Forecast into End March 2020 - 15th Feb 20
The Growing Weaponization of Space - 14th Feb 20
Will the 2020s Be Good or Bad for the Gold Market? - 14th Feb 20
Predictive Modeling Suggests Gold Price Will Break Above $1650 Within 15~30 Days - 14th Feb 20
UK Coronavirus COVID-19 Infections and Deaths Trend Forecast 2020 - 14th Feb 20
Coronavirus, Powell and Gold - 14th Feb 20
How the Corona Virus is Affecting Global Stock Markets - 14th Feb 20
British Pound GBP Trend and Elliott Wave Analysis - 13th Feb 20
Owning and Driving a Land Rover Discovery Sport in 2020 - 2 YEAR Review - 13th Feb 20
Shipping Rates Plunge, Commodities and Stocks May Follow - 13th Feb 20
Powell says Fed will aggressively use QE to fight next recession - 13th Feb 20
PALLADIUM - THIS Is What a Run on the Bank for Precious Metals Looks Like… - 13th Feb 20
Bitcoin: "Is it too late to get in?" Get Answers Now - 13th Feb 20
China Coronavirus Infections Soar by 1/3rd to 60,000, Deaths Jump to 1,367 - 13th Feb 20
Crude Oil Price Action – Like a Coiled Spring Already? - 13th Feb 20
China Under Reporting Coronavirus COVID-19 Infections, Africa and South America Hidden Outbreaks - 12th Feb 20
Will USD X Decline About to Trigger Precious Metals Rally - 12th Feb 20
Copper Market is a Coiled Spring - 12th Feb 20
Dow Theory Stock Market Warning from the Utilities Index - 12th Feb 20
How to Get Virgin Media Engineers to FIX Hub 3.0 Problems and NOT BS Customers - 12th Feb 20
China Under Reporting Coronavirus COVID-19 Infections by 66% Due to Capacity Constraints - 12th Feb 20
Is Coronavirus the Black Swan That Takes Gold To-Da-Moon? - 12th Feb 20
Stock Market 2020 – A Close Look At What To Expect - 12th Feb 20
IBM AI Mega-trend Tech Stocks Investing 2020 - 11th Feb 20
The US Dollar’s Subtle Message for Gold - 11th Feb 20
What All To Do Before Opening A Bank Account For Your Business - 11th Feb 20
How and When to Enter Day Trades & Swing Trade For Maximum Gains - 11th Feb 20
The Great Stock Market Dichotomy - 11th Feb 20
Stock Market Sector Rotation Should Peak Within 60+ Days – Part II - 11th Feb 20
CoronaVirus Pandemic Stocks Bear Market Risk 2020? - Video - 11th Feb 20
Facebook (FB) AI Mega-trend Tech Stocks Investing 2020 - 10th Feb 20
The US Constitution IS the Crisis - 10th Feb 20
Stock Market Correction Continues - 10th Feb 20
Useful Tips for Becoming a Better Man - 10th Feb 20
Will CoronaVirus Pandemic Trigger a Stocks Bear Market 2020? Part1 - 9th Feb 20
Could Silver Break-out like it did in 2011? - 9th Feb 20
The End of the Global Economy - 9th Feb 20
Fed to Stimulate in Any Crisis; Don’t Let Short-Term Events Bother You - 9th Feb 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Nadeem Walayat Financial Markets Analysiis and Trend Forecasts

Towards "Nuclear Winter”?

Politics / Nuclear Weapons Dec 25, 2017 - 02:22 PM GMT

By: Dan_Steinbock

Politics All efforts to resolve the elevated nuclear tensions in the Korean Peninsula should be subject to extreme caution, due to the potential of massive collateral damage of death, destruction, radiation and environmental collapse.

Reportedly, Washington is drawing up plans for a “bloody nose” military attack on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program. According to high-level sources, the White House has “dramatically” stepped up preparation for a military solution in recent months amid fears diplomacy is not working.


A few years ago, North Korea was thought to be a decade away from developing a missile that could hit America with nuclear weapons. After Pyongyang’s successful test of intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities in July, the figure has dropped to about a year and a half.

The premise of the proposed conventional military attack is that it will not provoke an escalation of conflict that could have catastrophic consequences for the Korean Peninsula, Japan, East Asia or beyond.

But what if it did?

The “nuclear winter” effect

During our conversation in mid-2000s, Harvard’s Graham Allison, perhaps the leading analyst of the threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, sought to imagine the consequences of a 10-kiloton weapon exploding in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, or any other major American city.

As he put it, “From the epicenter of the blast to a distance of approximately one-third mile, every structure will be destroyed and no one would be left alive. A second circle of destruction extending three-quarters of a mile from ground zero would leave buildings looking like the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City. A third circle reaching out 1 mile would be ravaged by fires and radiation.”

There is also a fourth circle, the widest and deadliest of all – the long-term environmental impact of a nuclear conflict.

Ever since the first experiences of nuclear devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it has become increasingly obvious that the post-nuclear attack effects pose overwhelming challenges not just locally, but regionally, even internationally.

In the 1980s, independent research teams began to explore not just the immediate possible impact of nuclear strikes but their aftermath scenarios. While military attention focused on the global nuclear exchange, these scientists concentrated on the subsequent massive fires and smoke emissions in the lower atmosphere causing severe short-term environmental after-effects - the so-called “nuclear winter.”

After the mid-80s, the early models of such scenarios led Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to devise treaties to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons from their 1986 peak. In retrospect, those predictions of “nuclear winter” effects were under-estimates.

Building on these pioneering studies by Paul Crutzen and John Birks, recent research indicates that in the aftermath of such nuclear attacks worldwide climatic cooling from stratospheric smoke could cause massive agricultural collapse that would threaten most of humanity with starvation.

At the same time, hawkish observers have sought to discredit the idea of nuclear winter effects because it undermines their political and military objectives. That error has fostered misleading policy conclusions, including the proposition that the US could successfully destroy Russia in a surprise first-strike nuclear attack.

In view of the nuclear winter impact, such an action would be suicidal. Yet, the fact that the Trump administration has rejected all evidence of climate change could foster very different official scenarios in which ultimate risks are downplayed and elusive opportunities magnified.

Thinking the unthinkable

With these imagined futures, the devil is in the details; that is, the extent of the devastation depends on the underlying assumptions. A military strike against North Korean nuclear sites is one thing. An escalation that would involve China and perhaps even Russia in the Korean Peninsula is another.

If the hostilities would be limited to a conventional war, a 2010 RAND study suggests that costs would amount to 60%-70% of South Korea’s annual GDP ($1.4 trillion in 2016). If North Korea detonated a 10-kilotone nuclear weapon in Seoul (mimicking Allison’s terror scenario), the financial costs would be more than 10% of South Korea’s GDP over the ensuing 10 years.

According to current estimates, an escalation of a military conflict on the peninsula could affect upwards of 25 million people on either side of the border, including at least 100,000 U.S. citizens (up to 300,000 or more). If Pyongyang uses only its conventional weapons (which is unlikely given its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the perception of an “existential” struggle for survival), estimates range from around 30,000 and 300,000 dead in the first days of fighting.

If North Korea would escalate to attacking Japan with ballistic missiles, it could target the greater Tokyo with a population of about 38 million. And that would only be the beginning.

If non-conventional weapons would be seized regionally, the net effect would be comparable to scenarios envisioning a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, in which weapons dropped on cities and industrial areas would unleash firestorms that would put massive amounts of smoke into the upper atmosphere.

That’s where these particles would remain for years, blocking the sun and making the earth’s surface cold, dark and dry.

In such a nightmare scenario, the lingering nuclear winter effects would be felt months after the nuclear bombs detonated across megacities, from Seoul to Tokyo and Shanghai, and beyond. In rural Middle America, farmers are familiar with snow and cold during the winter; but amid nuclear winter Iowans would face Arctic tundra as temperatures could plunge well below zero at night and might not recover above -10 degrees Celsius even during the day.

Agricultural collapse and fears of famines would accelerate on international scale.

Regional escalation, global Ice Age

If, in an extreme scenario, the confrontation in North Korea would escalate and result in an attack by the US on China and Russia with 2,200 weapons, that would affect agriculture worldwide, potentially lead to mass starvation, while generating Ice Age conditions.

Here’s the bottom line: Even a regional nuclear confrontation could have massive global cooling consequences with the associated collateral damage around the world.

Although nuclear munitions and other weapons of mass destruction were first developed in the US and the old Soviet Union, nuclear proliferation has created a high-risk status quo in which six of the nine countries known to have nuclear weapons are in Asia. As India, Pakistan, and North Korea pursue expensive weapons programs, their economic development is penalized but risks are global .

It is the collateral damage that should caution all efforts to resolve the Korean crisis or any possible nuclear confrontation. True, diplomatic negotiations take time and are predicated on difficult trade-offs. Yet, the alternatives seem far, far more costly.

Nuclear winter is a preventable hell.

Dr Steinbock is the founder of the Difference Group and has served as the research director at the India, China, and America Institute (USA) and a visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more information, see http://www.differencegroup.net/

© 2017 Copyright Dan Steinbock - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules