Nuclear War Could Be Devastating for America—With or Without a Retaliatory Strike

Joshua M. Pearce

The White House’s 2021 budget calls for US$28.9 billion for the Pentagon for nuclear weapons and a 20% increase to $19.8 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Yet the U.S. already has over 3,000 nuclear weapons. And my research shows that the U.S. could only safely use a fraction of them without killing Americans with an unintended adverse series of cascading environmental effects.

My models and those of others show that soot from the burning of cities following numerous nuclear blasts would cause a significant drop in global temperature, blocking the sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface. This would cause a drop in precipitation, increased ultraviolet radiation resulting from a badly damaged atmosphere, and a breakdown in supply chains and food production.

The study my colleague, David Denkenberger, and I did shows how damaging a nuclear attack using several nuclear weapons would be for the aggressor nation.

Nuclear winter versus nuclear autumn

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