back to article Solution found for climate change: Nuclear war

A solution has been found to those pesky climate change problems being caused by global warming: nuclear war. One minor niggle: "Widespread famine and disease would likely follow," even if the war were a small-scale one, writes Charles Choi for National Geographic News, describing the study conducted by scientists from NASA …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Since when does El Reg believe "the models"?

    that is all.

    1. Christoph

      Wrong icon there

      You shouldn't mix atom bombs and Paris Hilton.

      It's all boom and bust.

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    3. Anton Ivanov
      Thumb Up

      In this case it is probably believable...

      The Russian paper which did an analysis of how the Climategate crowd "interpreted" their data for the ex-Soviet union had very interesting info on the WW2. Same trend can be seen in quite a few other papers as well.

      Despite all weapons except Hiroshima and Nagasaki being conventional the amount of burning stuff clearly shows up on the climate data with the effects lingering up to the early 50-es.

      That has not prevented people who need to show massive warming from keeping these data points in the curve (it makes a much more convincing argument if you start from a couple of degrees lower than you should).

  2. Charles Manning

    Dubious model

    Cloud cover and CO2 keeps the heat in.Won't a layer of soot clouds do the same?

    Ever noticed how it only gets really cold at night when it is a cloudles sky?

    Seems like a broken model to me.

    1. HMB

      Yeah you tell them!

      You tell 'em Chales, those people with their stupid maths and science. Go anecdotes!

    2. Dagg

      Think daytime

      No, just think about what you wrote. The soot clouds do stop radiation at night there is no sunshine so there is no incoming radiation to stop so only the small amount of outgoing radiation is stopped.

      However, during the day when there is considerable incoming radiation the soot clouds work as designed and they stop most of it. Just like the difference between a cloudy day and a sunny day.

      Over time the earth will cool, simple just like what happens in an english summer after three weeks of cloudy weather. Bloody cold!

  3. hplasm

    Blastalicious kaboomability!

    El Reg meets Schlock Mercenary!!

    Top Stuff!

  4. Michael Hoffmann

    I fail to see the problem...

    "Widespread famine and disease would likely follow,"

    Thereby also taking care of overpopulation and too many people after too few resources.


    <- Imagine a cowboy general riding on an H-bomb out of a bomb bay icon here.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Are you volunteering?

      I do wish people wouldn't follow this rather psychotic thought chain.

      Problem - "More people need more resources"

      Does that mean we need to apply our minds to find a way of providing more resources?

      Solution - "Nah just kill loads of people init!"

      You do realise that 'You' are the people that 'They' are talking about right?

      because I'm certain of it.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just an additional thought....

        The only constraint on human activity and growth is energy availability. We have the ingenuity - for good or ill - to make everything else. It may take us a while. The only thing that will stop humanity is a disease we can't control. And that could be a lot worse for the planet, overall.

        While ever we continue use planetary stored energy - carbon based - we waste the primary source of this energy, the Sun. It is recognised that CO2 contributes to global warming and soot/atmospheric pollution more often than not to global cooling and has done since long before Adam was a lad...

        A 'small war' would be unfortunate for many an unpleasant setback to human growth for the remnants.

    2. F111F
      Thumb Up

      It was Major "King" Kong

      Slim's character was a Major, not a general, if you were referring to the "iconic" symbol of him riding the nuke out of the weapons bay of his B-52. Still one of my favorite movie scenes...

      1. Michael Hoffmann

        he was the very model of a suicidal gen... MAJOR!

        I was and thanks for the correction. I suppose that ride sort of removed any chance of him every being promoted to general, as well.

        As for the AC responder: while not going to the point of suicide, I did decide to remain child-free, so no offspring of mine will continue to use resources.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Start with the middle-east..........

  6. HMB


    See I pretend to read the register for it's high brow, intellectual content, but really it's because you make words up like "Kaboomability",

    I do like that word, but then they do say I'm easily amused.

    Of course we could use nuclear power to end climate change, but no, that's far too damned *****ing obvious, and it gives us the willies. God forbid a technology gives us the willies.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Quietly or Loudly?

      Because I'm not quite sure exactly _how_ you are envisioning "nuclear power" being used, and your 'like' of 'Kaboomability' rather worries me...

      1. HMB

        Don't worry

        I too frequently mix up carbon free sustainable energy and global annihilation. It's a common problem.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Nuclear fission sustainable?

          I'm playing devils advocate here, because I'm pro-nuclear, but I would suggest that the amount of fissionable material on Earth is limited just like any other earthbound energy resource.

          This means that in the long term, you cannot use 'sustainable' in connection to nuclear.

          The way I look at it is that the Earth has many energy resources, but because of entropy, they are all limited to one extent or another. Fossil fuels are stored energy from the Sun, nuclear fission is heavy elements (from the death of older stars) acquired during the formation of the Solar system), nuclear fusion is light elements probably from the formation of the Sun, wind and ocean currents are driven mainly by solar energy from the Sun, tide is gravitational (mainly from the Moon, and tidal drag is causing the Moon to slow down and approach the Earth so even this is finite), geothermal is (probably) natural nuclear fission (see above) combined with tidal effects from the moon, biofuels are capturing energy from the Sun and direct solar is (obviously) from the Sun.

          So if you discount total matter conversion (and boy would that be useful), and fusion of hydrogen electrolysed from water (finite on Earth but lots of it), all energy except direct and indirect solar energy is limited. And the Sun won't last forever!

          1. Jimbo 6

            You're not wrong, I say I say you're not wrong

            That's why the only long-term solution is to build some space craft, get the hell off this crowded mudball, and start colonising the rest of the universe (sorry, Native Sirians, but you're first in the path of the human bulldozers).

            C'mon people, it's not rocket science.

          2. Tom 13

            If you're running long enough for the sun to burn out, then yes

            everything is finite. But breeder reactors solve the problem of limited fissionable materials. They operation is pretty well documented I believe.

    2. hplasm

      God hates


  7. Rebajas

    Nice to know...

    Nice to know we have a back up plan :)

  8. davenewman

    Over-consumption wars

    I've said for some time that we will end up having wars not over resources, but to reduce over-consumption. E.g. drop atom bombs on the places with more gas-guzzling cars and air conditioning, like Midland, Texas or Florida. It is the only argument for an independent UK nuclear deterrent - the ability to bomb the USA.

    Now there is an added benefit, a nuclear winter after killing the polluters.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...the ability to bomb the USA."

      Nice thought, for the reasons given, but pointless on account of the fact that we wouldn't survive the payback. The country you were looking for is France - right next door, own nuclear capability and don't give a shit about anyone. Gotta keep up with them. Just in case.

      1. Jimbo 6

        Payback ?

        No problem, we'll just blame some brown people, the 'Merkins will easily buy that.

        (We'll leave a Muslim guy's passport at Ground Zero as proof... hey, it worked last time !)

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Nuclear winter

      And there it is - the phrase "nuclear winter"! I'm amazed that it wasn't even mentioned in the article. I thought the term had been bandied around ever since the Trinity tests, everyone already knows this is the consequence of a nuclear (ignoring the primary symptoms of instant death and/or radiation poisoning).

      What was the point of this study exactly?...

      1. despairing citizen
        Gates Horns

        Re:Nuclear winter

        "What was the point of this study exactly?..."

        To prove that the risk model for outsourcing your data centre to india can be a bit more radical than moving it to Liverpool

        Even if the indian have a higher average standard of spoken english

  9. Archimedes_Circle

    Breaking News

    Cure for the common cold, just add VX!

  10. Hadrian


    There was a good article about this a couple of years back (google "The environmental consequences of nuclear war" with some wonderfully apocalyptic graphs of Numbers of casualties (units of 100 million) and Soot (in Teragrams).

    The "nuclear war solves climate change" angle here is a bit spurious, since those of us that don't go up in smoke would just get a mini ice age for 5-10 years, then it would be back to warming as usual.

    It's scary to think that even if no-one lets rip with the plutonium a big volcanic eruption could have much the same effect. (Or is it scarier to think that some tin-pot dictator with a nuclear button could cause as much global devastation as a massive volcano?).

    Have a nice day.

    1. Thomas 4

      What's really terrifying?

      The fact that someone managed to build and detonate a 50MT nuclear weapon - that stuff at the bottom of the article along with wikipedia details on the Tsar Bomba? That's nightmare fuel, especially when you think that it only had half of its intended yield of 100MT.

  11. Youngdog
    Thumb Up

    Vote Strangelove!

    The party of common-sense solutions to the problems facing humanity;

    - Reduced population densities in the 1st world to sustainable levels

    - Avoid pension crises through lowered life expectancies (to between 0 and 30)

    - Helping the 3rd World by removing Global economic inequality

    - A return to a back-to-basics 'stone-age' values system to remove dependance on fossil fuels

    - An end to Capitalism via total elimination of currency-based economies

    - More of those lovely white Christmases you remember as a child

    "A sacrifice required for the future of the human race"

    - our beloved Fuhr, er, Party Leader Dr. S.

    But don't take his word for it! Here are just a few of the glowing testimonials our policies have recieved;

    "I heard about the Strangelove Party in the 60's, advised a succesion of US Presidents and couldn't stop laughing when I was awarded a nobel peace prize for ending the Vietnam war even though it was my idea to bomb 1/2 a million of them to death!" - Dr H. Kissinger

    "What modern Politics lacks is a party with vision. A party not afraid to make the 'hard choices'. A party that knows what must be done to make the world, truly, a better place. The Strangeloves ARE that Party" - Ernst S. Blofeld

    "I wish we had one of them doomsday machines" - Gen. 'Buck' Turgidson

  12. Pete 8

    Almost proof

    That most of Hitler's lot ended up working for the CIA or NASA.

    Add a new meaning to the term "National Lottery".

    There should be a special category of punishment for such eugenics crimes.

  13. Hud Dunlap

    Did any one measure the climate effect of the 50 meger

    I remember a lot of nuclear tests when I was growing up but I don't remember any climate change analysis.

    Who needs a model when you have historical records.

    1. David Pollard

      Climatic effects similar to cosmic rays?

      There was a dip in global temperatures in the '50s and '60s. Was this the result of atmospheric radioactivity produced in bomb tests, which led to increased cloud cover?

  14. json

    Oh come on!

    think outside the bomb!

  15. Simpson

    It's in the book

    I believe this one was "alternative 1".

  16. Kevin7

    Ozone depletion?

    They seem to have forgot that after a large nuclear exchange resulting in either nuclear autumn (what seems to be suggested here) or winter is that after the soot particles eventually fall back to earth or via wash out (thereby spreading large amounts of fall out all over the globe - groundburst explosions being the only type that could generate this much soot) is that the resulting ozone depletion would be a lethal after effect. We would be effected by much larger amounts of ultraviolet causing cancers, cataracts and leukaemia in humans and causing widespread crop failure in plants and destruction of phytoplankton in the sea. Naturally such effects at the base of the food chain will be pretty catastrophic leading to plant and species collapse or even extinction. The science behind the effects of multiple nuclear explosions is pretty robust - the literature is quite extensive on this subject.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Has a familiar ring to it.

      Stay indoors.

      Do not think about The Event.

      (C)Michell and Webb

    2. Tom 13

      Didn't TSR release an RPG

      based on that thesis?

      Oh, and that would be "scientific projections on the effects of multiple nuclear explosions is pretty robust." Until you perform the experiment, it isn't science. And since we don't seem to have a spare planet earth laying about on which we could run the experiment, this is one time I would prefer to keep it at projections instead of science.

  17. paulc

    It's coming...

    the excuses for the exchange are being prepared already (the coming problems between Europe and Islam)

    and the elite are already organising their bunker spaces...

  18. Nick Kew

    Cause and Effect

    Trouble is, climate change is an effect, not a cause, of Bad Things.

    Halting it for a period without addressing the cause is as clear a case as you could ask for of two wrongs not making a right.

  19. '); DROP TABLE comments; --

    Hang on a minute

    The model shows serious global cooling occurring as a result of 100 Hiroshima bombs, states that 30 x this would be needed to equal the Tsar Bomba, and yet - the Tsar Bomba was atmosphere-detonated in 1961 and there was no climate change as a result. Now, if the Tsar Bomba's THIRTY TIMES the power of the explosions in the model failed to produce any noticeable effect, how are we supposed to believe the model's 100 baby nukes that amount to 1/30th of the Tsar Bomba will do anything?

    If ever you needed clear and evident proof that climate-change models are complete and utter bullshit, you have it right there.

    1. Marky W
      Thumb Up


      What he said!

      (Plus: nice name. Fan of XKCD, perhaps?

    2. Kevin7

      Not a good example

      The Soviet "Tsar Bomba" is not a good example of nuclear effects. It was an airburst weapon dropped over Novaya Zemlya, a barren archipelago. It exploded at approx. 2.5 miles in altitude and set no major fires. Most of its effects were observed as blast rather than heat. Climate change effects come as the result of particulates becoming airborne which this weapon did not cause in significant numbers. Nuclear weapon effects of the most hazardous sort are by far the dirtiest, groundburst explosions of high density targets like cities pulverise and vaporise millions of tonnes of concrete, steel and earth whilst millions of tonnes of soot and ash through the burning of highly inflammable and and combustible materials are ejected into the atmosphere. "Tsar Bomba" can be almost completely ignored as an example of weapon effects on the climate. Volcanos are probably a better guide in some respects.

      1. Tom 13

        And the major volcanic eruption of equivalent magnitude within recorded history

        doesn't backup the assertions of the paper. Of course it's only one data point. But that's the problem with all this climate change malarkey: too few reliable data points to come to real conclusions.

    3. Gerry Doyle 1

      Here's a clue

      Seeing as you haven't got one.

      "Such a regional dust-up, the scientists determined, would cause conflagrations sufficient to loft about five million metric tons of black carbon into the lower atmosphere..."

  20. Thought About IT
    Thumb Up


    "As everyone except the most vehement climate-change deniers know, the earth is currently in a warming phase. The preponderance of evidence points to the rising rate of temperature increase as being anthropogenic"

    Let me be the first to congratulate El Reg for allowing those words to appear under its banner..

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Nothing else

      The second sentence is simply not accurate, the first is pretty solid based on evidence over geological time. The hard science evidence "against" the CO2 anthropogenic argument, versus shonky models measured against each other to prove the same point is irrefutable. It's just a matter of time before the "CO2 and it's all our fault" idea becomes a curious footnote in history.

    2. Barely registers

      Current global UAH anomaly is....


      Get your coat.

  21. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    Dr Strangelove

    "Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb."

    That's all folks

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Can we vote for where to send the Bombs?

    I vote for redmond,

    ..... will not notice the difference in the security patch release dates

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is but one problem with this proposal.

    Very few climatologists actually reside in India or Pakistan.

  25. James Pickett

    Prior art

    Matt Groening knew this years ago:

    Fry (trying to learn more about the 1000 years he missed) - "what happened to global warming?"

    Leela - "oh, that was wiped out by the nuclear winter".

    Am I the only one here who watched Futurama...?

  26. ian 22

    Anthropogenic climate change my arse

    Proof's in the pudding- bombs away and let's test this dodgy theory!

    Mine's the one with the extra lead shielding and emergency rations in the pockets.

  27. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Point of study

    @Annihilator, what was the point of this study?

    1) They quantified it, rather than "nuclear war will cool the planet", they calculated how much and where. Furthermore, the certainty of nuclear winter was assuming a huge like US-versus-USSR-scale exchange. They modeled a much smaller use of nukes.

    2) It's a computer model, the costs should be relatively low.

    3) Even if it still seems like there was no point, it's really 100% irrelevant. Lots of people do things that have no apparent point all the time. When you get right down to it it'd be a real dystopia if people couldn't do pointless things, taken to it's extreme you'd have a cot and 3 squares a day, and a job that directly provides food, sanitation, or cots (or no job at all, since having a non-required job would be pointless.)

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