Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Five Charts That Show We Are on the Brink of an Unthinkable Financial Crisis- John_Mauldin
2.Bitcoin Parabolic Mania - Zeal_LLC
3.Bitcoin Doesn’t Exist – 2 - Raul_I_Meijer
4.Best Time / Month of Year to BUY a USED Car is DECEMBER, UK Analysis - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Labour Sheffield City Council Election Panic Could Prompt Suspension of Tree Felling's Private Security - N_Walayat
6.War on Gold Intensifies: It Betrays the Elitists’ Panic and Augurs Their Coming Defeat Part2 - Stewart_Dougherty
7.How High Will Gold Go? - Harry_Dent
8.Bitcoin Doesn’t Exist – Forks and Mad Max - Raul_I_Meijer
9.UK Stagflation Risk As Inflation Hits 3.1% and House Prices Fall - GoldCore
10.New EU Rules For Cross-Border Cash, Gold Bullion Movements - GoldCore
Last 7 days
Why Banks Will Be Slammed In The Next Crisis—And That May Be Good News - 23rd Jan 18
Medicare Premiums Are A Shared Pool - Coming Changes That Will Transform Retirement - 23rd Jan 18
Charged Atmosphere of Heavy Police and Security Presence at Sheffield Street Tree Felling Protests - 23rd Jan 18
Pension Crisis And Deficit of £2.6 Billion At Carillion To Impact UK - 22nd Jan 18
Two Factors for Gold That You Don’t Want to Miss - 22nd Jan 18
Why You Must Own Silver in 2018 - 22nd Jan 18
This Could Be The Hottest Mining Stock Of 2018 - 22nd Jan 18
Stock Index Trend Trade Setups for the SP500 & NASDAQ - 22nd Jan 18
Stock Market Deceleration / Distribution - 22nd Jan 18
US Markets vs Govt Shutdown: Stock Markets at all time highs - 22nd Jan 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport - 1 Month Driving Test Review - 22nd Jan 18
Why should you use high-quality YouTube to mp3 converter? - 22nd Jan 18
Silver As Strategic Metal: Why Its Price Will Soar - 21st Jan 18
Stocks, Gold and Interest Rates Three Amigos Ride On - 21st Jan 18
Why Sometimes, "Beating the S&P 500" Isn't Good Enough - 21st Jan 18
Bunnies and Geckos of Sheffield Street Tree Fellings Protests Explained - 21st Jan 18
Jim Rickards: Next Financial Panic Will Be the Biggest of All, with Only One Place to Turn… - 20th Jan 18
Macro Trend Changes for Gold in 2018 and Beyond - Empire Club of Canada - 20th Jan 18
Top 5 Trader Information Sources for Timely, Successful Investing - 20th Jan 18
Bond Market Bear Creating Gold Bull Market - 19th Jan 18
Gold Stocks GDX $25 Breakout on Earnings - 19th Jan 18
SPX is Higher But No Breakout - 19th Jan 18
Game Changer for Bitcoin - 19th Jan 18
Upside Risk for Gold in 2018 - 19th Jan 18
Money Minute - A 60-second snapshot of the UK Economy - 19th Jan 18
Discovery Sport Real MPG Fuel Economy Vs Land Rover 53.3 MPG Sales Pitch - 19th Jan 18
For Americans Buying Gold and Silver: Still a Big U.S. Pricing Advantage - 19th Jan 18
5 Maps And Charts That Predict Geopolitical Trends In 2018 - 19th Jan 18
North Korean Quagmire: Part 2. Bombing, Nuclear Threats, and Resolution - 19th Jan 18
Complete Guide On Forex Trading Market - 19th Jan 18
Bitcoin Crash Sees Flight To Physical Gold Coins and Bars - 18th Jan 18
The Interest Rates Are What Matter In This Market - 18th Jan 18
Crude Oil Sweat, Blood and Tears - 18th Jan 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport - Week 3 HSE Black Test Review - 18th Jan 18
The North Korea Quagmire: Part 1, A Contest of Colonialism and Communism - 18th Jan 18
Understand Currency Trade and Make Plenty of Money - 18th Jan 18
Bitcoin Price Crash Below $10,000. What's Next? We have answers… - 18th Jan 18
How to Trade Gold During Second Half of January, Daily Cycle Prediction - 18th Jan 18
More U.S. States Are Knocking Down Gold & Silver Barriers - 18th Jan 18
5 Economic Predictions for 2018 - 18th Jan 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport - What You Need to Know Before Buying - Owning Week 2 - 17th Jan 18
Bitcoin and Stock Prices, Both Symptoms of Speculative Extremes! - 17th Jan 18
So That’s What Stock Market Volatility Looks Like - 17th Jan 18
Tips On Choosing the Right Forex Dealer - 17th Jan 18
Crude Oil is Starting 2018 Strong but there's Undeniable Risk to the Downside - 16th Jan 18
SPX, NDX, INDU and RUT Stock Indices all at Resistance Levels - 16th Jan 18
Silver Prices To Surge – JP Morgan Has Acquired A “Massive Quantity of Physical Silver” - 16th Jan 18
Carillion Bankruptcy and the PFI Sector Spiraling Costs Crisis, Amey, G4S, Balfour Beatty, Serco.... - 16th Jan 18
Artificial Intelligence - Extermination of Humanity - 16th Jan 18
Carillion Goes Bust, as Government Refuses to Bailout PFI Contractors Debt and Pensions Liabilities - 15th Jan 18
What Really Happens in Iran?  - 15th Jan 18
Stock Market Near an Intermediate Top? - 15th Jan 18
The Key Economic Indicator You Should Watch in 2018 - 15th Jan 18
London Property Market Crash Looms As Prices Drop To 2 1/2 Year Low - 15th Jan 18
Some Fascinating Stock Market Fibonacci Relationships... - 15th Jan 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

6 Critical Money Making Rules

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.


© 2005-2018 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