Nuclear Famine – A Billion People at Risk

(re-posted from

A report released Tuesday, April 24th at the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Chicago presents new data that should cause a fundamental rethinking of our nuclear policy. The study shows that even a limited nuclear war involving less than half a percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals would cause climate disruption that could cause a global famine.

The study prepared by PSR and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), assumed that 100 Hiroshima sized bombs were used and estimated that one billion people, one sixth of the human race, could starve over the following decade.

The scenario in the study was based on a war between India and Pakistan,  and we do now need to understand that smaller nuclear powers, not just the US and Russia, pose a threat to the entire planet.

But the greater lesson concerns the nuclear forces of the big powers.  Each US Trident submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study.  The US has 14 of them.  And a fleet of land based nuclear missiles, and an arsenal of nuclear weapons that can be delivered by bombers. The Russians possess the same capacity.

President Barack Obama has articulated a vision for a world free of nuclear weapons and, yet, continues to propose budgets with significant increases in spending on our arsenal. Join us in writing to the President and asking for clear and bold leadership for nuclear abolition and in preventing this grave threat to human health. 

Even the most ambitious arms reductions now being discussed would leave the US and Russia with 300 warheads each, most 10 to 30 times larger than a Hiroshima sized bomb:  an arsenal capable of producing the global famine scenario many, many times over.

It is time to begin urgent talks aimed at reducing the arsenals of all nuclear powers as the next essential step towards a binding, verifiable, enforceable treaty that eliminates them altogether.

  • Read a CNN op-ed by Dr. Ira Helfand and Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala by clicking here.
  • Listen to a recording of a press conference from Tuesday, April 24th at 9:30AM with national and local reporters by clicking here.
  • Listen to a recording and read an article by New England Public Radio on the Nuclear Famine Report by clicking here.
Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment