NUCLEAR FAMINE: A BILLION PEOPLE AT RISK
Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition
Ira Helfand, MD
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Credits and Acknowledgements
The publication of this briefing paper was made possible
thanks to the generous financial support of the Swiss Federal
Department of Foreign Affairs.
Over the last several years, a number of studies have shown that a limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan would cause significant climate disruption worldwide.
Two studies published this year examine the impact on agricultural output that would result from this climate disruption. In the US, corn production would decline by an average of 10% for an entire decade, with the most severe decline, about 20% in year 5. There would be a similar decline in soybean production, with, again, the most severe loss, about 20%, in year 5.
A second study found a significant decline in Chinese middle season rice production. During the first 4 years, rice production would decline by an average of 21%; over the next 6 years the decline would average 10%.
The decline in available food would be exacerbated by increases in food prices which would make food inaccessible to hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest. Even if agricultural markets continued to function normally, 215 million people would be added to the rolls of the malnourished over the course of a decade.
However, markets would not function normally. Significant, sustained agricultural shortfalls over an extended period would almost certainly lead to panic and hoarding on an international scale as food exporting nations suspended exports in order to assure adequate food supplies for their own populations. This turmoil in the agricultural markets would further reduce accessible food.
The 925 million people in the world who are chronically malnourished have a baseline consumption of 1,750 calories or less per day. Even a 10% decline in their food consumption would put this entire group at risk. In addition, the anticipated suspension of exports from grain growing countries would threaten the food supplies of several hundred million additional people who have adequate nutrition today, but who live in countries that are highly dependent on food imports.
The number of people threatened by nuclear-war induced famine would be well over one billion.
These studies demonstrate the need for additional research and underscore the urgent need to move with all possible speed to the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention that will eliminate the danger of nuclear war.
Full Report: 2012-05-13 Nuclear Famine Billion People at Risk
Phi Beta Iota: This is an important report. Left unsaid is the reality that a nuclear famine is precisely what is desired by those circles that believe that “useless eaters” should be put to death. They just have not solved the nasty little problems of a) body disposal at that scale and b) infectious disease emerging from that scale of death in situ. We continue to be concerned about biological warfare endeavors that could be used to wipe out lower income populations at a “manageable” rate of corpse disposal.