Nuclear famine: Pakistan vs India case

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by Fins, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. Fins

    Fins It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Dec 31, 2017
    In short, nuclear famine is a famine caused by globally significant agricultural declines, caused by nuclear winter (in this particular case - after "limited" exchange between Pakistan and India). Mr. Kent Shifferd, Ph.D., a historian from Wisconsin, published a piece about it. He talks about estimated 2 billion lives taken by such a famine.

    However, several statements he does in this piece - seem to be very wrong, to me. I wonder how and why could it be. Do i have wrong ideas myself? Or is good mr. Shifferd indeed wrong? Any help to sort it out will be much appreciated. The statements in question - are the following (in bold, with my comments in italics):

    1. "Pakistan is on the brink of becoming a failed state".
    I doubt this very much. Overall, it's not, as of 2017 - it's 17th in the list of fragile states, which is quite better than, say, much US-controlled Iraq and Afganistan, for example. And there is no downwards trend for Pakistan there, during recent years, too. But most importantly, security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons is much based on US assistance and technology, as mentioned, for example, in page 21 of this document.

    2. "Experts predict a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would kill about 22 million people from blast, acute radiation, and firestorms. However, the global famine caused by such a “limited” nuclear war would result in two billion deaths over 10 years".
    I don't doubt the 1st half of this quote, but the 2nd half - i do. Because current global food production is times higher than needed to keep current human world's population alive, which he either forgot to mention, or simply does not know. This is because most of grains are actually consumed not by humans, but by livestock of meat and dairy industries. It is always possible to cut those (quite much) and redirect grains previously fed to animals to sustain more human lives. Figures for estimated agricultural losses given in his own piece suggest the world will have ~15% decline in crops' production. This is not an unprecedented reduction: in early 1990s, Russia had this kind of reduction (check the graph here, if you want to see it) - and still there was nothing like "great famine of 1990s" in the country. Granted, meat became quite expensive and often limited availability, but this alone can not (and did not) kill millions, least billions, of people. Therefore, even in the scenario described in the Shifferd's piece, i expect that globally, death to starvation will largely remain to be what it is nowadays - namely, mainly the result of existing inequalities and ongoing exploitation of weaker people by people "in power".

    3. "Making the impact even worse, there are already almost 800 million malnourished people in the world. A mere 10 percent decline in their calorie intake puts them at risk for starvation".
    This 10 percent decline is not "mere" one. This is a kind of "life or death" difference, and due to this, affected people will do everything they can to avoid such a reduction. They won't go easily about starving to death. However uneducated and disempowered many of them happen to be, they are still human beings, which means they are surprisingly inventive and productive whenever their existance is really endagered. We've seen this time and time again, too: many wars of the past had city sieges, during which food became scarce inside such cities, - and most of the time populations of such cities were able to survive for much longer than anyone could think they would, beforehand.

    4. "The only way to assure ourselves this global disaster will not happen is to join the global movement to abolish these weapons of mass destruction. ... We abolished slavery. We can get rid of these terrible instruments of destruction".
    Wrong on more than one level, this one.

    1st, it's not the "only" way. There is at least one other way, namely the way which mankind is doing last ~70 years - since very start of Nuclear age: to have nuclear weapons designed, built and controlled by responsible enough individuals, which prevents usage of those weapons (other than for testing purposes, and lately even that) altogether. Some say this way can't be "assured" - but i say, it worked so far, and anyone who has any idea how men and women who handle nuclear weapons are trained, and what are modern nuclear weapon and infrastructure designs - will certainly see my point here.

    2nd, joining global movement does not assure anything. The movement as a whole may as well fail completely, in which case joining it changes nothing at all.

    3rd, abolishment of nuclear mass destruction weapons, even if it could happen in reality for everywhere in the world (which i am sure it can't), - would inevitably lead to rejuvenation of conventional warfare. Anyone not familiar with matherial and human life losses occured during World War 2 here? Incalculable damage, several dozens millions of human lives. All done without using any nuclear weapons except very end of the war. I.e., abolishment of mass destruction weaponry will likely lead to what we had during WW2 times, as wars would start and expand much easier than when you got many countries in the war each able to hit any advancing army with some nuclear warheads, if needed, and thus effectively disable practical possibility of ground operations vs such a country as long as their nuclear arsenal is functional.

    4th, practical abolishment of all nuclear weapons will, among other things, require that noone is hiding some. Now this practically means that every government of every country involved in the process is honest with all other governments about it. Because you can't be sure they are not smart enough to outwit ya and manage to hide a pile of nuclear weapons despite your best attempts to find out whether they are doing so, or not. Last time, historically, that i've seen governments of all major powers being completely honest with everyone else about any potentially life-or-death issue? Never. And i don't expect this to change. Why would it. So, any movement or not, governments that be won't just throw all those nukes away. Fear that some of their potential adversaries will hide some - will ensure it, if nothing else. This is why no, we can't get rid of nukes (mankind i mean), as long as there is no practical telepathy to ensure any specific individual's honesty (fat chance, eh).

    5th, he's dead wrong about abolishing slavery. We (mankind as a whole) still have it, and not as rare isolated cases. Figures are ~30 million slaves existing today in the world (and i feel this is one big underestimation), and ~60 thousand of those are on US soil, in particular. Source. Even times more people - so we're talking hundreds millions, - are still existing as "cheap labor force", and their circumstances are often hardly different from being enslaved by their employer / master(s), even if "on paper" they are not slaves at all.

    Bottom line? I guess there are Ph.Ds who are full of it, eh. Would be happy to be wrong about it, but can't see how i'd be. Please tell if i'm missing something. Thanks in advance.