Re: Nuclear war is not an existential threat

From: J. Andrew Rogers (
Date: Tue Sep 27 2005 - 10:57:10 MDT

On 9/26/05 11:17 AM, "Phillip Huggan" <> wrote:
> 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.

You are less likely to be whipped for posting somewhat off-topic than you
are for posting something arguably off-topic that is also nonsense to any
person with a modicum of Google skills. You just provided an example:

- The "nuclear winter" study you cite has been discredited for a number of
reasons, but the important part is that it greatly over-stated the cooling
effect and very badly modeled atmosphere physics to the point of being

- The US has ~1500 MT of nuclear weapons. The Russians have a fair bit
more. Most of these are airburst weapons, with the greatly reduced
environmental impact implied. This is a relatively small aggregate yield in
comparison to many things.

- There are a few volcanic explosions every century with yields that exceed
the combined nuclear capability of the US and Russia, putting fantastic
quantities of junk in the atmosphere. Novarupta in 1912 (what, you've never
heard of it?) exceeded the combined yield of all nuclear arsenals, and
launched vast quantities of aerosols and particulates into the stratosphere,
yet a "nuclear winter" scenario never materialized.

- In studies of the climate effects of massive volcanic explosions that
launch cubic miles of aerosols and particulates into the stratosphere, the
only ones on record that had a significant short-term cooling effect had
yields that exceed nuclear arsenals by an order of magnitude, and in those
cases the significant effects were not global.

In other words, your position is pretty damn shaky. I don't see how a
reasonable person could look at the relevant facts in aggregate and assert
that a catastrophic nuclear winter would occur simply by using the nuclear
capability of the world. Nature has far more destructive potential than we
do, and uses it regularly.

Get off the nuclear weapons fixation already. It is a relatively minor
threat to your survival -- you are far more likely to be killed by a nasty
virus than a nuke.

J. Andrew Rogers

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