3-1: On Nuclear Winter

When thinking of nuclear war, I usually associate the term with immediate harm to humanity, property, and a country’s infrastructure. However in his article “Nuclear Winter is a Real and Present Danger,” Alan Robock comments on the detrimental environmental effects of a nuclear bomb. He notes that this article is necessary because people have the tendency to avoid unpleasant topics and because society may no longer believe that nuclear activity poses a risk to global temperatures.

Even thought this research originally helped slow the arms race in the 1980s, the debate brought about by the idea of a ‘nuclear winter’ has been fraught with pitfalls. Robock comments that the debate on the actual idea has been scarce. Attention has been focused on the specifics of the models instead of the implications of the climate change. Instead of fearing the consequences of any environmental damage, the participants of the debate argued to what extent of the damage. The article makes the point that even a small nuclear conflict could create an extreme climate change that would last for decades. The article “Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War” states that nuclear war could cause an “agricultural collapse” (37). Societies would face starvation.

I find the general avoidance of this topic troubling. These scientists’ work is not censored but ignored. The information about the environmental cost of nuclear activity will not help enemies make harmful technology or give away strategies. Additionally, Robock, Toon, and Turco write that few experiments on the effects of nuclear war have been conducted since the 80s. Although the current information could worry the public, the research demonstrates striking results that affect every country and that should influence policy decisions. — Clarissa