Why survivors of a nuclear World War III will envy the dead

An all-out nuclear war could wipe out hundreds of millions of people around the world within the space of just a few hours.

The huge flash of blinding light when a nuclear bomb detonates is ‘like bringing a piece of the sun down to the ground’. Everything within the miles-wide firestorm is instantly incinerated.

Those spared annihilation in the initial blast would then face being poisoned to death by the radioactive fallout or noxious smog billowing from burning cities and industrial areas.

The consequences of nuclear war on the world’s climate make for even more terrifying reading. Smoke from the fires would block out the sun, reducing its warming rays by up to 70% and plunging the world into a new horror – nuclear winter.

Brian Toon, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, is one of the pioneers of nuclear winter research.

He spoke to Metro about nuclear winter theory and why his warnings about it stretching back 40 years are still just as valid today.

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