How will SA be affected if a nuclear war broke out in Europe? This simulation thinks it has the answer
While some, including the Ukrainian ambassador to SA, warn of possible nuclear action in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a YouTube user has used public documents to run a nuclear war simulation.
The simulation seeks to predict the possible fallout from a nuclear attack in Europe on the rest of the world. It claims to use information from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations, public information from the US Central Intelligence Agency and “other declassified sources”.
While the sources may be reputable, the simulation is only a prediction and should be treated as such.
The simulation, which has been shared widely on social media, is divided into three stages: nuclear war, nuclear fallout and nuclear winter.
The simulation predicts the nuclear fallout will be followed by a nuclear winter which will plunge SA into temperatures around -32°C
While SA and other nations in the southernmost regions of the southern hemisphere may not be directly hit in nuclear attacks in the northern hemisphere, they would be affected by the nuclear fallout.
It predicts radiation levels of around 218 Roentgen equivalent man (rem) in SA 30 days after attacks. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said doses of more than 100 rem may cause health issues.
“Though radiation affects people in different ways, it is generally believed humans exposed to about 500 rem of radiation all at once will likely die without medical treatment.
“Similarly, a single dose of 100 rem may cause a person to experience nausea or skin reddening, though recovery is likely, and about 25 rem can cause temporary sterility in men. However, if these doses are spread out over time, instead of being delivered all at once, their effects tend to be less severe,” it said.
Rem is a unit of equivalent dose, effective dose and committed dose which are measures of the health effect of low levels of ionising radiation on the human body.
The simulation predicts the nuclear fallout will be followed by a nuclear winter which will plunge SA into temperatures around -32°C.
“Nuclear winter is the term for a theory describing the climatic effects of nuclear war. Smoke from the fires started by nuclear weapons, especially the black, sooty smoke from cities and industrial facilities, would be heated by the sun, lofted into the upper stratosphere and spread globally and would last for years.
“The resulting cool, dark, dry conditions at Earth’s surface would prevent crop growth for at least one growing season, resulting in mass starvation over most of the world. In addition, there would be massive ozone depletion, allowing enhanced ultraviolet radiation,” explained climatologist Alan Robock.
While some have applauded the simulation, others have claimed its calculations of fatalities may be too conservative.
Russia had the world on high alert in the first few days of the country’s invasion of Ukraine when its president Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear armed forces to be on high alert.
It has raised concerns about nuclear weapons being used in the conflict.
Addressing the Cape Town Press Club last week, Ukraine’s ambassador to SA Liubov Abravitova said Putin had threatened the world with a nuclear war and had decided on behalf of Russians that their future would be one of isolation and economic suffering.
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