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Climate scientists to discuss the chilling consequences of nuclear war

Beyond the immediate devastation of a large-scale nuclear war, a growing number of scientists are concerned about the aftermath of "nuclear winter," which could result in famine for billions of people across the globe. On Monday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m. PT, climate experts will discuss the long-term effects of atomic warfare at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.

While the threat of mutual annihilation by the superpowers has diminished, the risk of nuclear combat has increased, said AGU panelist Stephen Schneider, the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University and senior fellow at Stanfords Woods Institute for the Environment.

"Now we have almost no likelihood of a large-scale nuclear war between Russia and the West, but a much higher probability of a limited number of weapons being used in the next 30 years by rogue states," he said.

Schneider will be the final speaker at the AGU session titled "Environmental Consequences of Regional Nuclear Conflicts" to be held in Room 3002 at Moscone Center West. The session comes on the heels of the Nov. 16 vote by the U.S. Senate to endorse a plan that reverses decades of U.S. anti-proliferation policy by allowing the government to ship civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India. Critics of the Senate plan argue that it would augment Indias nuclear arsenal and spark a regional arms race with Pakistan and China.

"Not only do we have a higher probability of the use of nuclear weapons, they are much more likely to be used in the tropics, not in the high latitudes," Schneider said. "It has changed from a big war in the North to smaller explosions in the political South."

Detonation of nuclear weapons in the tropics could have harsher effects than a war in the northern latitudes, Schneider explained, because heat from the sun could loft plumes of smoke higher into the atmosphere, where it
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
831-915-0088
Stanford University
11-Dec-2006


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