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Regional Nuclear War Would Affect Entire Globe

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    http://www.livescience.com/environment/080407-nuclear-ozonehole.html Regional Nuclear War Would Affect Entire Globe By
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      http://www.livescience.com/environment/080407-nuclear-ozonehole.html


      Regional Nuclear War Would Affect Entire Globe


      By <http://www.technovelgy.com/>
      <http://www.livescience.com/php/contactus/author.php?r=at> Andrea Thompson,
      LiveScience Staff Writer

      posted: 07 April 2008


      Devastation of a regional nuclear war would be far from confined to the
      countries that started it. Plants and animals, including humans, would be
      endangered by a global ozone hole that would result and persist for years
      after all the bombs were exhausted, a new study suggests.

      The layer of ozone high up in the Earth's atmosphere absorbs ultraviolet
      radiation from the sun before it hits the Earth's surface. Without it,
      almost all lifeforms would be bombarded by this energetic radiation, and
      though more research needs to be done into the specific effects of a
      significant ozone depletion, increased
      <http://www.livescience.com/health/top10_burning_questions.html> UV
      radiation can damage DNA and has been linked to the most common forms of
      skin cancer, as well as melanoma (the most lethal skin cancer) and
      cataracts.

      "It would have a big increase in human ailments such as cataracts and
      cancer," said study leader Michael Mills of the University of Colorado at
      Boulder.

      Since 1990, the chances of developing melanoma have more than doubled,
      according to a 2003 Environmental Protection Agency document. This increase
      is believed to be a result of increased exposure to UV radiation from ozone
      depletion caused by man-made chemicals that destroy ozone, such as
      chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

      What exactly the UV bombardment will mean in terms of species extinction is
      uncertain, Mill said. But he added, "it would affect the food chain."

      Researchers used a computer model to see how a regional
      <http://www.livescience.com/environment/061211_nuclear_climate.html> nuclear
      war (in this case between Pakistan and India) involving 50 nuclear devices
      the size of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima would affect global ozone levels.
      The effect was far more massive than previous studies done in the 1980s had
      suggested, even though these studies had imagined a full-scale nuclear war,
      the authors said.

      The findings are detailed in the April 7 issue of the journal Proceedings of
      the National Academy of Sciences.

      About 40 countries in the world possess enough plutonium, uranium or a
      combination of both to construct substantial nuclear arsenals. A nuclear
      exchange like the one examined in this study would be only a fraction of a
      percent of the total explosive power of the world's nuclear arsenal, Mills
      said. Of the eight nations that have known nuclear arsenals, even those with
      the smallest, such as Pakistan and India, are believed to have 50 or more
      Hiroshima-sized weapons.

      "The world has become a far more dangerous place when the actions of two
      countries on the other side of the world could have such a drastic impact on
      the planet," study co-author Brian Toon, also of the University of Colorado
      at Boulder.

      Smoky soot plumes

      Previous studies, including a 1985 National Research Council Report, had
      examined the effects of nuclear war on ozone loss by considering the
      chemicals the
      <http://www.livescience.com/technology/060613_nuclear_bomb.html> bombs would
      spew into the atmosphere. But they failed to consider the massive smoke
      plumes that would rise into the air as the bombed-out cities burned.

      The new study considers both, painting a picture of citywide firestorms and
      ozone destruction.

      "It has as much to do with the bombs as it does with the fuels in modern
      megacities," Mills said. "Pretty much everything will burn in a city."

      A previous study conducted by Toon showed that as buildings, cars and other
      infrastructure burned, the air above would fill with soot. Some of this soot
      would fall out of the atmosphere in so-called black rains, but the rest
      would make its way up into the atmosphere within a matter of days, Mills
      said.

      The heat from these firestorms (like those that destroyed Dresden, Germany,
      in World War II) would push the
      <http://www.livescience.com/environment/080407-gw-soot.html> soot-filled air
      into the upper troposphere, the bottom-most layer of the Earth's atmosphere.

      The blackened air would then be warmed by incoming sunlight and would rise
      further, into the stratosphere, which sits atop the troposphere and is the
      layer of the atmosphere where the ozone that protects us from the sun's
      harmful ultraviolet rays is found. The soot could eventually rise 50 miles
      (80 kilometers) up in the atmosphere, the study found.

      The new study found that up in the stratosphere, the soot would continue to
      absorb incoming sunlight and heat the surrounding air. This heat would
      jump-start the chemical reactions that destroy ozone.

      "So the temperatures go way up and this changes the rates of a number of
      catalytic cycles that destroy ozone," Mills told LiveScience. As these
      cycles speed up, they wipe out the ozone molecules much faster than they
      would at normal temperatures.

      The heating of the stratosphere would also alter its circulation, prolonging
      the time that it normally takes for the air in that layer to turn over,
      prolonging the soot's effect on ozone destruction.

      Global ozone hole

      Above the mid-latitudes, where the United States and most of Europe lie,
      ozone levels would drop by 25 to 40 percent. At higher northern latitudes,
      ozone losses would reach 50 to 70 percent, the model results show.

      "The models show this magnitude of ozone loss would persist for five years,
      and we would see substantial losses continuing for at least another five
      years," Mills said.

      The 1985 NRC report found only a 17 percent depletion of stratospheric ozone
      over the Northern Hemisphere, which would recover by half in just three
      years.

      "The big surprise is that this study demonstrates that a small-scale,
      regional nuclear conflict is capable of triggering ozone losses even larger
      than losses that were predicted following a full-scale nuclear war," Toon
      said.

      These losses would drop ozone levels below the amount that typically marks
      the seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica - only this ozone hole would extend
      from about 20 degrees north and south of the equator, creating a near-global
      <http://www.livescience.com/environment/ap_051207_ozone_hole.html> ozone
      hole.

      The loss of this protective "sunscreen" layer could have a terrible impact
      on the plants and animals living below that would then be susceptible to UV
      radiation.

      Damage to plants and animals at mid-latitudes would likely rise sharply,
      according to the study, which was funded by the University of Colorado at
      Boulder. UV rays could also damage the bacteria at the roots of some crops,
      which the plants depend on for some food.

      Previous studies have shown residents of aquatic ecosystems, especially
      amphibians, are particularly susceptible to UV rays because they can do
      little to avoid it. Many plankton in the ocean could also be wiped out,
      endangering the many marine organisms that depend on them for food.

      "They can't slap on sunscreen," Mills said.



      "Anyone who clings to the historically untrue -- and -- thoroughly immoral
      doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up
      the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them
      debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has
      settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary
      opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic
      truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms."
      --Robert A. Heinlein




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