Presaging Conditions for a Nuclear War and the Possibility of Global Strategic Nuclear War
The Air Quality Index in New York City at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, was 484, which is considered hazardous. Philadelphia issued a code red warning.
The elderly, young children, and those who are pregnant or have heart or lung conditions were warned to stay indoors because they could experience serious health effects from the smoke. In fact, most of the United States, including the Midwest, suffered from poor air quality due to the Canadian wildfires.
Why is all that important?
To answer that question, I am going to insert a passage from my book Armageddon, book three of the First Strike Series, that describes the consequences of smoke infusion into the atmosphere after a nuclear war. There are striking similarities. We will then discuss the probability of nuclear war using the Bayesian, Frequentist, and Superforecasting models.
Excerpt from Armageddon
“How severe in terms of the food chain?” Armstrong asked.
“It all depends on the megatonnage and the height of the blast plus the duration of the wildfires,” Lewis said.
“Let’s do the chemistry first. We need ozone in the stratosphere. Free oxygen atoms in the stratosphere form 4,500 tonnes of O3 per second by reacting with UV rays from the sun. The nuclear blast throws oxides of nitrogen—NO and NO2—into the stratosphere. Even without our injection, nitrous oxides account for 50 to 70 percent of ozone depletion. As a general rule, for each megaton of TNT, you can expect five long tonnes of nitrogen oxides to reach the stratosphere. They take the O3 and convert it to O2 and regenerate. Each NO molecule introduced into the atmosphere can destroy ten to the twelfth power of O3 molecules. The introduction of smoke aerosol exacerbates the situation in three ways. First, the smoke absorbs short wavelength radiation and reduces the rate of oxygen photolysis, which results in less O3 formation. Second, smoke absorbs solar radiation, heating the stratosphere and increasing NO + O3 = NO2+O2 reactions. Third, 2-O3 will be changed to 3-O2, or the particles could be oxidized by the O3 to form products such as carbon monoxide expressed as O3 + C (solid) = O2 + CO gas. The smoke particles absorbed in this last reaction shorten the duration of sunlight blockage. To summarize, the planet will have little to no sunlight followed by UVBs that will damage marine life and lead to a short growing season.”
Everyone in the bunker heard Armstrong’s breathless response. “Jesus!” He coughed. “How long will the soot last?”
“I estimate years, not months,” Lewis said. “We’re already starting with a bad atmospheric situation. The amount of soot from the initial explosion is at least 100 T g, 100 million long tonnes of elemental carbon. Historically, older models have compared nuclear blasts to volcanic eruptions. In 1815, Mount Tambora exploded with a force of 30,000 megatons and ejected 38 cubic miles of rock and tephra. We estimate that the Mount Toba eruption about 75,000 years ago produced 670 cubic miles of tephra and 6 billion short tons of sulfur dioxide.
“We imagine it reduced the human population to tens of thousands. In 2021, wildfires alone emitted 1.76 billion long tonnes of carbon globally. The amount has increased by more than 10 percent in each of the last five years. Smoke from the wildfires in Eastern Siberia due to global warming has consumed 80,000 square miles since 2020.” He paused. “Should I continue?”
“Might as well get all of it,” Armstrong said. “How much worse could it be?”
Lewis’ face was stone-like. “A lot, Mr. President. A hell of a lot.