CU-Boul­der re­searcher says mil­lions would starve to death in nu­clear war

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Char­lie Bren­nan

Against a back­drop where North Korea suc­cess­fully tested an in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile that ap­pears ca­pa­ble of hit­ting Alaska and Hawaii, re­searchers and stu­dents at the Univer­sity of Colorado are cal­cu­lat­ing the po­ten­tial for wide­spread famine from a nu­clear war.

Teams at CU-Boul­der and Rut­gers Univer­sity are for the first time study­ing how nu­clear war would af­fect agri­cul­ture, the oceanic food chain, mi­gra­tion ac­tiv­ity and food avail­abil­ity.

The Boul­der re­searchers are led by Brian Toon, a pro­fes­sor in CU’s Depart­ment of At­mo­spheric and Oceanic Sciences and a rec­og­nized con­trib­u­tor to the 2007 No­bel Peace Prize that went to for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore and the In­ter­na­tional Panel on Climate Change. Re­searchers are us­ing su­per­com­put­ers and so­phis­ti­cated climate mod­els de­vel­oped by Boul­der’s Na­tional Cen­ter for At­mo­spheric Re­search to cal­cu­late how much smoke might be pro­duced by nu­clear blasts. They also are us­ing world food trade and agri­cul­tural mod­els to project the im­pact on crops and po­ten­tial wide­spread famine from a nu­clear war.

Years of work leave Toon con­vinced he knows the bot­tom line. “The sur­viv­ing pop­u­la­tion on Earth would be hun­dreds of mil­lions,” as op­posed to the 7.5 bil­lion who cur­rently in­habit the planet. “The vast ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple would starve to death.”

Pro­vided by Depart­ment of De­fense

Teams at CU-Boul­der and Rut­gers are study­ing how the smoke from a nu­clear blast, such as this cloud over Hiroshima, Ja­pan, on Aug. 6, 1945, would af­fect agri­cul­ture, the oceanic food chain, mi­gra­tion ac­tiv­ity and food avail­abil­ity.

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