Mutlu Ozdogan and Christopher Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin and Alan Robock of Rutgers say an India-Pakistan nuclear war would have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture:
Crop production would decline in the Midwestern United States from climate change following a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan. Using Agro-IBIS, a dynamic agroecosystem model, we simulated the response of maize and soybeans to cooler, drier, and darker conditions from war-related smoke. We combined observed climate conditions for the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri with output from a general circulation climate model simulation that injected 5 Tg of elemental carbon into the upper troposphere. Both maize and soybeans showed notable yield reductions for a decade after the event. Maize yields declined 10-40 % while soybean yields dropped 2-20 %.
A 2007 study by ecologists at Rutgers found that even after post-Cold War nuclear weapons reductions, a superpower vs. superpower nuclear war could still produce enough smoke to generate the agricultural catastrophe and mass famine known as "nuclear winter."
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War of Ideas is a blog on the theory behind the practice of global politics. Foreign Policy associate editor Joshua E. Keating brings you the latest research, data, and intellectual debates from around the world.