Published: Nov. 4, 2019

A new study about  the outcome of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan was released recently. An article in CU Boulder Today interviews Owen Toon, who works at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics.

Toon first presented his research on the subject at the Center for Asian Studies Catastrophic Asia symposium and it was subsequently published in the Journal of Asian Studies.

In Daniel Strain's article, Toon talks about his research: 

“An India-Pakistan war could double the normal death rate in the world,” said Toon, a professor in the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). “This is a war that would have no precedent in human experience.”

“They’re rapidly building up their arsenals,” Toon said. “They have huge populations, so lots of people are threatened by these arsenals, and then there’s the unresolved conflict over Kashmir.”

In his latest study, he and his colleagues wanted to find out just how bad such a conflict could get. To do that, the team drew on a wide range of evidence, from computer simulations of Earth’s atmosphere to accounts of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945.

Based on their analysis, the devastation would come in several stages. In the first week of the conflict, the group reports that India and Pakistan combined could successfully detonate about 250 nuclear warheads over each other’s cities. 

There’s no way to know how powerful these weapons would be—neither nation has conducted nuclear tests in decades—but the researchers estimated that each one could kill as many as 700,000 people.

Read the full article here.