New Report Warns of War-caused “Nuclear Famine”

August 18th, 2022 - by Back from the Brink & The Washington Post

New Nuclear Famine Report
— A Clarion Call for Action

Back from the Brink & Marina Lopes / The Washington Post

(August 17, 2022) — When we talk about nuclear weapons as an existential threat to humanity we are highlighting an unacceptable truth of the current human condition—that even if only a small percentage of the world’s 13,000+ nuclear weapons are detonated, the result would be catastrophic, killing and/or starving hundreds of millions, possibly billions of people and effectively ending human civilization as we know it.

A new landmark scientific study lays bare this sobering reality and serves as a clarion call for action for abolishing nuclear weapons.

Led by Lili Xia and Alan Robock of Rutgers University, this study examines two simple questions — what would be the consequences of a so-called “limited nuclear war” between India and Pakistan or a “large scale nuclear war” between the United States and Russia.

The short answer is that under either scenario many, many people would die from the immediate effects of the blast and large amounts of sun-blocking soot would be generated leading to a precipitous, abrupt decline in global temperatures (i.e. nuclear winter) which in turn would lead to a massive reduction in crop production leading to mass famine, starvation and death.

Under the limited nuclear war scenario up to one-third of the world’s population would die within two years, while under the large scale nuclear war scenario 5 billion of the world’s 6.7 billion people would die within two years.

These findings are hard to fathom and it’s understandable why so many people and decision makers want to pretend the problem doesn’t exist or choose to ignore it. But not you nor Back from the Brink — and it’s up to us to educate folks in our communities,  engage our activists and supporters and demand that members of Congress and the Biden Administration get their heads out of the sand and take this problem seriously.

Here are some steps you can take:
Educate Yourself, Your Team and Supporters
• Read the full report
• Read the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Summary Report
• Read the Washington Post report (posted below)
• Share the report on your organization’s social media channels
• Include a blurb about the report and the Back from the Brink campaign in your emails or newsletters to supporters and activists

Share the Report’s Findings with Your Congressional Delegation
Call, write or email your members of Congress or those with whom you have close relationships. Mail a copy of the report to their in-state or in-district offices. Speak to their aides responsible for nuclear weapons issues. Ask for a meeting or conversation with the member of Congress while Congress is on its August recess. Ask them to co-sponsor H Res 1185, the BftB resolution. Find their contact information here.

Submit a Letter to the Editor
Letters to the editor are a great way to educate and inform your community and decision makers. Focus on 1-2 key messages — notably that this new report highlights the urgency and gravity of the threat posed by nuclear weapons and the need to abolish them; and that Back from the Brink is a growing, effective national grassroots campaign that any concerned individual can get involved in, in their own communities and make a real difference.

  • Consult the Advocacy Tools section of the BftB website for more resources.
    Contact Us
    As always, please feel free to reach out to us at with any questions or suggestions you might have.

ACTION ALERT: Urge Congress to
Show Leadership on Nuclear Weapons

Urge Your Rep. to Co-Sponsor H.Res 1185

Commemorate the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by urging your Congressional representative to co-sponsor H.Res 1185, a resolution “Embracing the Goals & Provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

H.Res 1185, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), urges the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by pursuing all five of Back from the Brink’s recommended policies. Here is a link to the petition and the text of the letter.

Seventy-seven years ago next week, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan killings tens of thousands in an instant and many more in the weeks and months after. And just this week, the UN’s Secretary-General said “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

I write today in solidarity with the hibakusha — the survivors of those horrible bombings — to say never again and ask you to show real leadership toward a world free of these weapons – before the unthinkable happens again.

As a first step, I ask you to co-sponsor H. Res. 1185, introduced by Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA). The resolution calls on the President to embrace the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and urges all federal and congressional leaders to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by supporting common sense policies being proposed by the national grassroots coalition, Back from the Brink (BftB): Bringing Communities Together to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. These policies are:

(A) renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;

(B) ending the President’s sole authority to launch a nuclear attack;

(C) taking the nuclear weapons of the United States off hair-trigger alert;

(D) canceling the plan to replace the nuclear arsenal of the United States with modernized, enhanced weapons; and

(E) actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to mutually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

By co-sponsoring H Res 1185 you’ll join some 400 local, state and national organizations, 60+ cities and towns across the country and some 330 local, county and state elected officials who have endorsed the BftB policy platform.

Many experts say the threat of a catastrophic nuclear war has never been greater. There is no time to waste. Please co-sponsor H Res 1185 and use your voice and leadership to address this threat to all of humanity, our future and all we hold dear.

US-Russia Nuclear War
Could Starve 5 Billion to Death

Marina Lopes / The Washington Post

(August 16, 2022) — Some two-thirds of the world could starve to death in the event of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States, according to a Rutgers University-led study published Monday. Nuclear conflict would lead to “catastrophic” disruptions in food supplies, as sun-blocking soot and ash wilt crops around the world, researchers wrote in the peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature Food.

Even a smaller-scale nuclear war between Pakistan and India would devastate food supplies, slash global production by 7 percent within five years and kill up to 2.5 billion people. Food insecurity in these cases would be deadlier than the nuclear blasts, the study predicts.

“The data tell us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening,” climate scientist Alan Robock, co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The researchers examined how wind patterns could spread smoke and fire from nuclear attacks and cloud skies above major food exporters such as the United States and China. The lack of sunlight would collapse harvests and could lead to a 90 percent drop in animal, fishing and crop yields worldwide within four years of a conflict between major nuclear powers.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and stepped-up Chinese military drills near Taiwan have renewed fears of nuclear conflict. After war broke out in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his nuclear forces were “combat ready,” stoking fears of possible nuclear conflict with the West 30 years after the end of the Cold War. (Russian officials later attempted to soften Putin’s warning.)

China has conducted numerous drills around Taiwan following recent trips by U.S. lawmakers to the island, which Beijing claims as its territory. Instability in the Taiwan Strait comes as Western experts warn that Beijing is accelerating a buildup of its nuclear arsenal.

Nuclear war would compound existing threats to food security. Climate change, the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic have already severely disrupted global food production. A record 345 million people around the world face food insecurity, an increase of nearly 200 million compared with pre-pandemic levels, according to the World Food Program.

In response, countries such as India and Malaysia have limited exports of wheat and chicken. The fear of global conflict — regardless of whether nuclear arms could be involved — and the food insecurity that would result could lead countries to further limit exports or hoard food supplies.

“The psychological impact can be greater than the actual damage,” said William Chen, a food science professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and the director of a government-affiliated food safety program.

To prepare for greater global instability, he added, countries must move away from traditional farming and diversify their food sources. Mushroom farming, indoor farming and insect protein production or microalgae foods could provide alternatives.

“These don’t require as much room,” Chen said. “They can be grown in your kitchen, in an underground space, and rely less on an environment exposed to nuclear war.”

Marina Lopes was a reporter based in Brazil for The Washington Post. Before joining the paper, she reported for Reuters in Mozambique, New York and Washington. She left The Post in June 2020.

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