If the U.S. and Russia go into nuclear war, there are a handful of places to go to avoid the Armageddon

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Since Russia attacked Ukraine, the fear of a potential nuclear war between two massive forces, the U.S. and Russia, has become a common topic of conversation. Researchers worldwide fear a possible war between the U.S. and Russia, and some projections suggest that this would wipe up not millions but billions of people, leaving only several countries to survive.

The U.S. vs. Russia and their allies

The potential nuclear war between the two forces would spark direct involvement from NATO. Similarly, Russia’s allies would likely react. But even without anyone’s interference, two nuclear forces would cause instant deaths to millions and leave five billion people to starve to death.

A study published in Nature in 2022 stated, “The reduced light, global cooling, and likely trade restrictions after nuclear wars would be a global catastrophe for food security.” Lili Xia, a climate scientist at Rutgers University who led the research, added, “A large percent of the people will be starving.” The projected numbers claim that around 75 percent of people, or five billion, would starve if these two forces collided.

Almost no place to hide

A potential nuclear attack would first destroy New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washinton, D.C., according to CBS News journalist John Dodge’s map from 2015. The journalist used data from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and the National Resource Defense Council to reach these conclusions. In addition, he believed that Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming would be targets based on the fact they host the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

But, the potential strikes would not end with the U.S. In the past year, Russia’s president mentioned striking the U.K. over 30 times. That makes the U.K. the second worst place after the U.S. if Russia attacked. Daily Star’s Adam Cailler reported, based on the maps from the Cold War, “Targets at the time were set to include Central London, Edinburgh, Teesside, Leicester, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull, York, Dover, Cambridge, Maidstone, Huddersfield, Wolverhampton, Coventry, and Sheffield.” They would likely remain the same.

President Biden warned Putin in October 2022 that if he tried to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, he would unleash Armageddon. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscomos, shared that in case of a nuclear war, “NATO countries will be destroyed by us in half an hour.”

The worst-case scenario

According to the study, if the chaos broke, only a few spots would be able to survive. Among those places are Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, Oman, Brazil, Paraguay, and a few others. But that’s not even the worst-case scenario.

If everything goes wrong, the study from 2022 suggested that if 150 Tg of soot is unleashed, the global average calorie production from crops will decline by about 90% just three to four years after the nuclear war. “The changes would induce a catastrophic disruption of global food markets,” the study says, “as even a 7% global yield decline compared with the control simulation would exceed the largest anomaly ever recorded since the beginning of Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) observational records in 1961.”

Nuclear weapons were used in 1945, and ever since then, the fear of attacks only became more real. Numerous scientists warned we must do everything to avoid it.

Even a smaller conflict could destroy the planet

Nature reported that even smaller conflicts would destroy the planet, explaining, “Soot from burning cities would encircle the planet and cool it by reflecting sunlight back into space.” Scientists based their study on a potential conflict between India and Pakistan. It is believed that these two countries have around 150 warheads each. In contrast, the U.S. and Russia hold 95 percent of all warheads out of an estimated 14,000.

“Even this regional, limited war would have devastating indirect implications worldwide,” said Jonas Jägermeyr, a postdoctoral scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, “It would exceed the largest famine in documented history.”

If nuclear weapons continue to exist, “they can be used with tragic consequences for the world,” said “Local Nuclear War” study coauthor Alan Robock, a climatologist at Rutgers University who has long studied the potential effects of nuclear war. “As horrible as the direct effects of nuclear weapons would be, more people could die outside the target areas due to famine.”

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.