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A nuclear holocaust or nuclear apocalypse would be widespread destruction, possibly causing the collapse of civilization, through the use of nuclear weapons. Early Cold War-era studies suggested that billions of humans would nonetheless survive the immediate effects of nuclear blasts and radiation following a global thermonuclear war.[2][3][4][5] However, there is much debate about how the planet's environment would be affected and the potential consequences of societal and economic breakdown. Since 1947, the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has visualized how far the world is from a nuclear war. The threat of a nuclear holocaust plays an important role in the popular perception of nuclear weapons. Some scholars, such as utilitarian philosopher Derek Parfit, argue that there is an overwhelming moral imperative to reduce even small risks of human extinction, given the magnitude of the calamity were the human race to become extinct. As a result of the extensive nuclear fallout of the 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear detonation, author Nevil Shute wrote the popular novel On the Beach which was released in 1957, in this novel so much fallout is generated in a nuclear war that all human life is extinguished. In 1982 nuclear disarmament activist Jonathan Schell published The Fate of the Earth, which is regarded by many to be the first carefully argued presentation that concluded that extinction is a significant possibility from nuclear war.
The belief in "overkill" is also commonly encountered, with an example being the following statement made by nuclear disarmament activist Philip Noel-Baker in 1971 a€“ "Both the US and the Soviet Union now possess nuclear stockpiles large enough to exterminate mankind three or four a€“ some say ten a€“ times over". However, it must be noted that comparisons with supervolcanos are more misleading than helpful due to the different aerosols released, the likely air burst fuzing height of nuclear weapons and the globally scattered location of these potential nuclear detonations all being in contrast to the singular and subterranean nature of a supervolcanic eruption.[33] Moreover, assuming the entire world stockpile of weapons were grouped together, it would be difficult due to the nuclear fratricide effect to ensure the individual weapons would go off all at once. In a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists feature, Alan Robock and Owen Toon argued that our growing understanding of the effects of nuclear winter necessitates that the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) be replaced with self-assured destruction (SAD).[1] That is, regardless of whose cities burned, the effects of the resultant nuclear winter on the food supply would be felt worldwide. Historically, it has been difficult to estimate the total number of casualties resulting from a global nuclear exchange because scientists are continually discovering new effects of nuclear weapons, and also revising existing models.
Early reports considered direct effects from nuclear blast and radiation and indirect effects from economic, social, and political disruption.
Although this report was made when nuclear stockpiles were at much higher levels than they are today, it also was made before the risk of nuclear winter was discovered in the early 1980s. In the early 1980s, scientists began to consider the effects of smoke and soot arising from burning wood, plastics, and petroleum fuels in nuclear-devastated cities.
More recent studies make use of modern global circulation models and far greater computer power than was available for the 1980s studies. In contrast to the above investigations of global nuclear conflicts, studies have shown that even small-scale, regional nuclear conflicts could disrupt the global climate for a decade or more.

A 2012 study examined agricultural impacts of a hypothetical regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan (using climate predictions from Robock[35]) and showed very significant declines in both corn and soybean production in the U.S. A separate study examined rice production in China using the same climate model,[35] but a different agricultural model.[46] They predicted that rice production would decline by an average of 21% the first 4 years after soot injection and by 10% for the following 6 years. This report argued that the world is in a state in which it particularly vulnerable to even modest declines in food production. In turn, they argue that small perturbations in the food supply are highly amplified for malnourished populations. Lastly, they note that famines are often associated with epidemics, citing that the Tambora famine of 1816 triggered an epidemic of typhus in Ireland that spread to much of Europe and the Bengal famine of 1943, which was associated with major local epidemics of cholera, malaria, smallpox, and dysentery.[6] Similarly, they propose that the vast and crowded megacities of the developing world would see major outbreaks of infectious diseases and illnesses.
Given that all of the comforts and necessities we enjoy in the 21st century are predicated on electronics and their functioning, an EMP would disable hospitals, water treatment facilities, food storage facilities, and all electronic forms of communication. Under such a scenario, some of the Earth is made uninhabitable by nuclear warfare in future world wars. It features in the security concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD)[dubious a€“ discuss][citation needed] and is a common scenario in survivalism. However the premise that all of humanity would die following a nuclear war and only the "cockroaches would survive" is critically dealt with in the 1988 book Would the Insects Inherit the Earth and Other Subjects of Concern to Those Who Worry About Nuclear War by nuclear weapons expert Philip J.
However, the assumptions made in this book have been thoroughly analyzed and determined to be "quite dubious".[24] The impetus for Schell's work, according to physicist Brian Martin, was to argue that "if the thought of 500 million people dying in a nuclear war is not enough to stimulate action, then the thought of extinction will. Even should the aggressor execute a successful first strike attack, they could not guarantee that most of their citizens would survive. Additionally, it did not consider other secondary effects, such electromagnetic pulses (EMP), and the ramifications they would have on modern technology and industry. It was speculated that the intense heat would carry these particulates to extremely high altitudes where they could drift for weeks and block out all but a fraction of the sun's light.[39] A landmark 1983 study by the so-called TTAPS team (Richard P. In a regional nuclear conflict scenario where two opposing nations in the subtropics would each use 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons (about 15 kiloton each) on major populated centres, the researchers estimated as much as five million tons of soot would be released, which would produce a cooling of several degrees over large areas of North America and Eurasia, including most of the grain-growing regions.[43][35][42] The cooling would last for years, and according to the research, could be "catastrophic".
A 2008 study found that a regional nuclear weapons exchange could create a near-global ozone hole, triggering human health problems and impacting agriculture for at least a decade.[36] This effect on the ozone would result from heat absorption by soot in the upper stratosphere, which would modify wind currents and draw in ozone-destroying nitrogen oxides.
A followup study examined effects on Chinese rice, maize and wheat production,[47] and found wheat was particularly affected, dropping more than 50% in the first year and averaging 39% in the first 5 years.

In turn, modest changes in average global temperature can have disproportionately large effects on crops.
Nuclear explosions create a pulse of electromagnetic radiation called a nuclear EMP or NEMP.
An EMP blast threatens the foundation which supports the existence of the modern human condition. Nuclear holocaust is a common feature in literature and film, especially in speculative genres such as science fiction, dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. Senate, the Office of Technology Assessment estimated casualties under different scenarios. The changes they found were also much longer lasting than previously thought, because their new model better represented entry of soot aerosols in the upper stratosphere, where precipitation does not occur, and therefore clearance was on the order of 10 years.[42] In addition, they found that global cooling caused a weakening of the global hydrological cycle, reducing global precipitation by about 45%. Additionally, the analysis showed a 10% drop in average global precipitation, with the largest losses in the low latitudes due to failure of the monsoons. Year-to-year variability was high, with greatest declines occurring 5 years following the event. Such EMP interference is known to be generally disruptive or damaging to electronic equipment. Certain EMP attacks could lead to large loss of power for months or years.[citation needed] Currently, failures of the power grid are dealt with using support from the outside.
For comparison, in the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the water infrastructure had been devastated and led to at least 3,333 deaths from cholera in the first few months after the earthquake. In the event of an EMP attack, such support would not exist and all damaged components, devices, and electronics would need to be completely replaced. Other countries would similarly see the resurgence of previously non-existent diseases as clean water becomes increasingly scarce.

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