Currently, there are over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Out of 196 countries, only nine possess nuclear weapons. And more than 90% of the world's nukes are owned by just two countries: the United States and Russia.
But did you know that even a minor nuclear conflict -- one that uses only a fraction of the nuclear weapons currently in existence -- could wreak havoc on the global climate and affect billions of people across the world?
A 2014 report published in the journal Earth's Future found that even a regional war of 100 nuclear detonations would produce 5 teragrams of black soot (that's 5,000,000,000 kg!) that would rise up to Earth's stratosphere and block sunlight. This would produce a sudden drop in global temperatures that could last longer than 25 years and temporarily destroy much of the Earth's protective ozone layer. This could also cause as much as an 80% increase in UV radiation on Earth's surface and destroy both land and sea-based ecosystems, potentially leading to global nuclear famine.
Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado and the study's lead author, summarized it best:
In the 1980s, we learned that global thermonuclear war could render the planet close to uninhabitable. Now, we know that even [regional] nuclear war can cause great suffering worldwide, with potential for a lot of people to die from starvation in regions very far from a conflict.
Seems like now might be a good time to start dismantling some of those 15,000 nuclear weapons.
The good news is: We don't have to sit idly by and watch our fate unfold before us. We can do something about this. The problem of existing nuclear weapons isn't scientific or technological -- it's poltical. There are only nine countries in the world that actually have nuclear weapons; to achieve global zero, we only need to influence a small (though powerful) group of global leaders. Let's take a stand and demand action from those leaders to eliminate nuclear weapons once and for all.
This is one of the most urgent human rights issues of our time; if nothing is done, this could be our future:
Stand up for a world without nuclear weapons: Join the fight today.