Re: Nuclear war is not an existential threat

From: Phillip Huggan (
Date: Mon Sep 26 2005 - 12:17:58 MDT

At the risk of being whipped by the list-sniper again... In 1984 the TTAPS committee realized the threat of nuclear winters triggered by nuclear detonations of low as 100MTs of arms. Our livestock and all other land animals would go blind and starve, our agriculture would cease for two growing seasons, and plagues, insects and cold temperatures would ravage the immune system weakened canned food sustained survivivors. Over the long-term, we might not industrialize again in time before the next ice-age hits; all our easily attainable hydrocarbon stocks have been harvested. The geopolitics in achieving MNT might see such nukes pre-emptively used.

Phil Goetz <> wrote:> The problem is not a comet hitting the planet and
> killing us all off before we get to the Singularity.
> The problem is humans developing (and subsequently
> misusing) nanotechology, or a nuclear war breaking
> out, or any other number of human-generated worldkills.

In 1979, the US Office of Technology Assessment (since dissolved
by the W. Bush administration) put out a publication called
"The Effects of Nuclear War" (still available on the OTA CD set).
It evaluated the destructiveness of various nuclear war scenarios.
The worst scenario conceivable at the time resulted in at most,
IIRC, a 25% fatality rate in the US and USSR from
weapons and fallout. Deaths from agricultural productivity,
infrastructure damage, disorder, etc., were not calculated.
However, the report showed that it was quite impossible
for an all-out nuclear war to wipe out human life on earth,
and unlikely for it to cause as much destruction as the
Black Death did.

I believe we have generally less capability now than then, as there
as AFAIK been more missile destruction than building, and also
as whereas older bombs and missles had huge megatonnage in order
to compensate for their limited accuracy, whereas newer ones
tend to have lower yields and higher accuracy.

- Phil

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