Feeds

Solution found for climate change: Nuclear war

Just a 'splendid little war' would do

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A solution has been found to those pesky climate change problems being caused by global warming: nuclear war.

One minor niggle: "Widespread famine and disease would likely follow," even if the war were a small-scale one, writes Charles Choi for National Geographic News, describing the study conducted by scientists from NASA and other institutions that reached this good-news/bad-new conclusion.

The group built a computer model to discover what effect a relatively low-end nuclear conflict would have – say, a spat between Pakistan and India, for example. The projected arsenal was rather wimpy: 100 Hiroshima-sized nukes.

Such a regional dust-up, the scientists determined, would cause conflagrations sufficient to loft about five million metric tons of black carbon into the lower atmosphere, where it'd be heated by solar radiation and rise into the higher atmosphere – where it would hang out for a goodly amount of time, getting in the way of sunlight.

The cooling caused by this sooty layer wouldn't end life as we know it – as might have been possible if the US and the Soviet Union had ever taken the gloves off back in the Fate of the Earth days. But it would be nasty enough.

"The effects would still be regarded as leading to unprecedented climate change," researcher Luke Oman said at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science confab in Washington, DC.

As everyone except the most vehement climate-change deniers know, the earth is currently in a warming phase. The preponderence of evidence points to the rising rate of temperature increase as being anthropogenic, but the soot flying above our heads wouldn't care if you believe Al Gore or Anthony Watts – it would just want to do its part in helping to cool the earth.

"After a regional nuclear war," Choi writes, "average global temperatures would drop by 2.25 degrees F (1.25 degrees C) for two to three years afterward, the models suggest. At the extreme, the tropics, Europe, Asia, and Alaska would cool by 5.4 to 7.2 degrees F (3 to 4 degrees C), according to the models."

And this temperature drop, according to the study, would be a result of merely the 21st century equivalent of a "Splendid Little War". The computer model, based as it is on the equivalent of 100 Hiroshima Little Boys, would have to be repeated more than 30 times to equal the blastalicious power of the largest single nuke – that we know of – that was ever exploded: the Soviet Union's 50-megaton thermonuclear beasty known variously as RDS-220, Big Ivan, Tsar Bomba, and simply Big Bomb, which exhibited its heavily shielded kaboomability in 1961.

Pack 100 of those babies into your computer model, bomb boffins, and let us know what you come up with. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.