A paper published by researchers on Wednesday envisages more than 100 million immediate deaths if India engage in nuclear war, followed by global mass starvation. Based on India and Pakistan’s current populations and the urban centers that would be likely targeted, the researchers estimated up to 125 million could be killed if 100 kiloton weapons were used -- that is more than six times as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

For reference, some 75-80 million people were killed in World War II.

But that would only be the beginning.

The research found that mass firestorms ignited by the exploding nuclear weapons could release 16 million to 36 million tons of soot (black carbon) into the upper atmosphere, spreading around the world within weeks.

The soot in turn would absorb solar radiation, heating the air up and boosting the smoke’s rise. Sunlight reaching the Earth would decline 20 to 35 percent, cooling the surface by 3.6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 5 degrees Celsius) and reducing precipitation by 15 to 30 percent.

SYED TAHIR RASHDI,

Shahdadpur, Sindh.