A nuclear war between South Asian rivals India and Pakistan would trigger a global famine that would immediately kill 2 billion people around the world and spell the “end of human civilization,” according to a study by an anti-nuclear group. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) also warned that even a limited nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan would destroy crop yields, damage the atmosphere and throw global food markets into chaos. Specifically, the study noted, a nuclear war in South Asia would release black carbon aerosol particles that would cut U.S.
CNN reported that there are at least 17,000 nuclear warheads (other reports suggest that there are perhaps as many as 20,000) around the world, which present a far greater threat than the current obsession with Iran’s nascent atomic program. Indeed, the firestorms produced by this imaginary South Asian war “would loft 5 million tons of soot high into the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight and dropping temperatures across the planet.

On the brighter side, Helfand indicated, a movement to ban atomic weapons is gathering storm. In May of last year, 17 nations issued a joint statement warning of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and advocated for their elimination. Most of these warheads are currently owned by the United States and Russia, while India and Pakistan are believed to have “only” about 100 warheads each. By the fall of 2013, 125 nations attached themselves to the statement. “The international community should continue to take practical steps to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Helfand said.

Moreover, given the apocalyptic power of contemporary nuclear weapons – which are far more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 – the impact of an India-Pakistan war would be felt across the globe. Even more devastating, China’s wheat crop would drop by 50 percent in just the first year after the hypothetical Indo-Pak nuclear war.

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