Questions you never thought to ask: What would a nuclear war in South Asia mean for U.S. soybean production?

Mutlu Ozdogan and Christopher Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin and Alan Robock of Rutgers say an India-Pakistan nuclear war would have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture: Crop production would decline in the Midwestern United States from climate change following a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan. Using Agro-IBIS, a dynamic agroecosystem model, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Mutlu Ozdogan and Christopher Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin and Alan Robock of Rutgers say an India-Pakistan nuclear war would have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture:

Crop production would decline in the Midwestern United States from climate change following a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan. Using Agro-IBIS, a dynamic agroecosystem model, we simulated the response of maize and soybeans to cooler, drier, and darker conditions from war-related smoke. We combined observed climate conditions for the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri with output from a general circulation climate model simulation that injected 5 Tg of elemental carbon into the upper troposphere. Both maize and soybeans showed notable yield reductions for a decade after the event. Maize yields declined 10-40 % while soybean yields dropped 2-20 %.

A 2007 study by ecologists at Rutgers found that even after post-Cold War nuclear weapons reductions, a superpower vs. superpower nuclear war could still produce enough smoke to generate the agricultural catastrophe and mass famine known as "nuclear winter."

Mutlu Ozdogan and Christopher Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin and Alan Robock of Rutgers say an India-Pakistan nuclear war would have a devastating impact on U.S. agriculture:

Crop production would decline in the Midwestern United States from climate change following a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan. Using Agro-IBIS, a dynamic agroecosystem model, we simulated the response of maize and soybeans to cooler, drier, and darker conditions from war-related smoke. We combined observed climate conditions for the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri with output from a general circulation climate model simulation that injected 5 Tg of elemental carbon into the upper troposphere. Both maize and soybeans showed notable yield reductions for a decade after the event. Maize yields declined 10-40 % while soybean yields dropped 2-20 %.

A 2007 study by ecologists at Rutgers found that even after post-Cold War nuclear weapons reductions, a superpower vs. superpower nuclear war could still produce enough smoke to generate the agricultural catastrophe and mass famine known as "nuclear winter."

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: War

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