Regional Nuclear War -- No Big Whoop?

Days before presidential ink drops without much notice on the Henry J. Hyde United States and India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act of 2006, thus laying the groundwork for a nuclear arms race in South Asia, researchers with the American Geophysical Union have released a study on the atmospheric effects of a "limited" nuclear exchange of the kind envisioned between, say, India and Pakistan. Back in the mid-80s, the original nuclear-winter theory was based on a model assuming thousands of thermonuclear detonations across the planet; the AGU scientists have updated the variables to match contemporary, smaller-scale threats.

Their findings aren't much sunnier than the original total nuclear-winter scenario (which is captured to devastating effect in Cormac McCarthy's new novel, The Road, probably the greatest piece of nuclear war art ever created.)

The study, "Environmental Consequences of Regional Nuclear Conflicts ", unveiled Monday at a meeting in San Fancisco, concludes that even a limited nuclear war would trigger enough massive fires and throw enough smoke plumes into the stratosphere to result in "long-lasting, global climate effects." This global cooling would have a profound effect on agricultural production on every continent. The authors conclude that even a "tiny" nuclear exchange would produce "climate changes unprecedented in recorded human history."

Could it be that the U.S.-India nuke deal is just the first stage of a devilishly brilliant plan by the Bush Administration to finally address global warming?

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