New research argues that 100 nuclear weapons is the “pragmatic limit” for any country to have in its arsenal. Any aggressor nation unleashing more than 100 nuclear weapons could ultimately devastate its own society, scientists warn.
The study was published in the journal Safety on Thursday; it was co-authored by Michigan Technological University professor Joshua Pearce and David Denkenberger, assistant professor at Tennessee State University and director of Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED).
“The results found that 100 nuclear warheads is adequate for nuclear deterrence in the worst case scenario, while using more than 100 nuclear weapons by any aggressor nation (including the best positioned strategically to handle the unintended consequences) even with optimistic assumptions (including no retaliation) would cause unacceptable damage to their own society,” the scientists wrote.
There are approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons globally, according to the research, with the U.S. and Russia accounting for nearly 90 percent of that total. With nine nuclear weaponized countries, the paper argues for a disarmament proposal that would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world to 900 or less.
“100 nuclear warheads is the pragmatic limit and use of government funds to maintain more than 100 nuclear weapons does not appear to be rational,” the paper argues.
The scientists discuss the devastating global environmental impact that would occur when a country deploys more than 100 nuclear weapons.
This “environmental blowback” would involve a significant drop in global temperatures as soot from nuclear blasts prevents sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface. This, combined with reduced precipitation, could severely impact food production, experts warn, potentially resulting in mass starvation.
“If the agricultural productivity reverts to preindustrial yields because of a nuclear strike, most countries would not be able to feed themselves,” the study says.
Researchers also cite conservative estimates that 34 million people would die if 100 nuclear bombs were unleashed on China, the world’s most populous nation.
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