PSR Statement on the Nuclear Famine Report August 15, 2022

Statement on the Nuclear Famine Report published Aug 15

PSR thanks the Rutgers University and University of Colorado researchers for producing this new, chilling ‘nuclear famine’ report, which examined the impact of six nuclear war scenarios that would cause irreparable damage to agriculture and oceanic food supply. The report from Dr. Lili Xia, Dr. Alan Robock and their colleagues confirms our worst fears about the health consequences of nuclear weapons. Most notably, after the initial effects from blast, burns and radiation, the world would face climate impacts causing unprecedented starvation. 

The smallest-scale of the war scenarios — involving only a tiny percentage of the world’s arsenals – would decrease global caloric consumption by seven percent, on average. If the United States and Russia had a nuclear war, the climate impacts on agriculture and other food production would be so severe that caloric consumption would drop 90 percent, on average, across the entire planet. Five billion people are estimated to perish from starvation in this scenario. 

The Nuclear Famine Report emphasizes the point that nuclear weapons are protecting no one. In the event of a small or large nuclear conflict, the impacts would spread far beyond the borders of the combatants. The medical consequences of a nuclear catastrophe have motivated Physicians for Social Responsibility to advocate for eliminating all nuclear weapons since its founding in 1961. Even without use in warfare, nuclear weapons production, development, and testing harm human health, disproportionately impacting people of color.

PSR Board member and San Francisco Bay PSR Vice President Tova Fuller, MD, PhD , said, “International law has banned chemical and biological weapons because of their indiscriminate impact on civilians. For the same reason, we must prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. All of them.”

PSR Executive Director Jeff Carter said, “How can a nation base its ‘defense’ strategy upon the threat to burn millions of people to death, and starve billions more? The only sensible and mature response to this data is for the nations with nuclear arsenals to immediately commence negotiations for total, multilateral reductions and elimination of all nuclear arsenals.”

PSR Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Director Martin Fleck said, “Nuclear bombs are not ‘weapons,’ they are doomsday devices. It’s not a nuclear ‘war,’ it’s a crime against humanity.”

Thankfully, 66 nations have signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Under the obligation of the TPNW, the signatories must work with nuclear-armed countries toward elimination. 

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