According to the New York Times, at least 108 million people have been killed in wars in the twentieth century. The First World War started in Europe and lasted more than 4 years from 1914 to 1918 with 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel losing their lives. The Second World War lasted for 6 years from 1939 to 1945 with deaths ranging from 50 million to more than 80 million. Both of these wars were catastrophic, but could it happen again? That’s what we’ll find out, in this episode of The Infographics Show: What Are The Chances of World War 3?
Wars can break out for a number of reasons. World War One arguably started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated on June 28, 1914. This was the immediate cause but there were a series of events, which triggered the four year-long war. And though there were a number of incidents that led to World War Two, the European emergence of the conflict came about on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, which led Britain and France to declare war on Hitler’s Nazi state in retaliation. A third world war could come about through a US/Russia dispute, or possibly US/China. And of course North Korea, which has been the hot topic in the press right now, after President Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Hopefully that’s made it less likely that a war with North Korea will happen anytime soon. A recent New York Post article featured the words of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who said ”The understanding that a third world war could be the end of civilization should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous for modern civilization.” This was during his annual televised call-in show where he fields questions from the public. When you mention the words World War Three, you can’t help but think of nuclear weapons, as it’s likely a third world war would be a nuclear one.
Before we explore how a nuclear war might play out, let’s first take a brief look back at the history of nuclear weapons development. The world’s first nuclear weapons explosion was on July 16, 1945, in New Mexico, when the United States tested its first nuclear bomb. It was only three weeks later, on August 6, 1945, that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
It killed or wounded nearly 130,000 people, and three days later, the United States bombed Nagasaki, which killed 74,000 people and injured another 75,000. These two events marked the end of World War Two; because this was back at the beginning of nuclear weapons development and with only one side having nuclear capability, there was no retaliation. Following the Second World War, the United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain conducted more nuclear weapons tests, and in 1958, nearly 10,000 scientists presented to United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold a petition that begged, “We deem it imperative that immediate action be taken to effect an international agreement to stop testing of all nuclear weapons.” Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, as more development took place, treaties were signed to promote disarmament, but more and more countries developed nuclear weapons. Today there are believed to be around 16,300 nuclear weapons spread between nine countries.
They are The United States, Russia, the UK, France, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel. Russia and the US share 93 per cent of all nuclear warheads out there, but they have been asked to reduce the number of weapons under the START treaty, which stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. All these weapons make the prospect of a third world war very different to the first and second world wars.
So assuming world war three did kick off, and it was nuclear, what would it look like? HuffPost has launched HuffPost-Apocalypse, a project that aims to investigate what an apocalypse would mean for humanity, and to support this, have been doing their own research and analysis in to what the effects of a nuclear war might be. In a recent article they proposed two scenarios. The first, a global nuclear war centered on a US and Russia conflict. In this scenario, at between 1,800 and 3,000 large warheads, would be fired at nuclear weapon launch sites, ports, major industry, command centers, power stations and densely populated areas. The other potential area of tension that could spark a conflict is between India and Pakistan.
This scenario would be on a much smaller scale, with around 100 smaller nuclear weapons being used out of stockpiles of around 200. With strikes on densely populated super cities such as Delhi and Karachi. But it’s possible that it could lead to a larger conflict, with other countries becoming involved.
What would the fallout be? When these bombs are dropped, there would be intense nuclear radiation and a blinding flash brighter than the sun; a fierce fireball; and a massive blast wave that would kills thousands. With so many casualties, aid organizations would be overwhelmed and unable to help all of the injured. Meaning many would be left to fend for themselves with severe injuries including burns, broken bones, and deep cuts from flying debris. And the long-term results would be even more catastrophic.
With so many fires burning, the skies would be filled with smoke clouds similar to a large volcanic eruption. These would block out the sun, which would cause the atmosphere and earth to cool, resulting in what’s known as a nuclear winter. The latest climate models suggest that the use of a few tens to a hundred of the smaller nuclear weapons in the India/Pakistan scenario would cause severe frosts, drought, and famine, which would last up to ten years and stretch across the entire northern hemisphere. In the bigger America/Russian scenario, there would be a long lasting cold period with a global reach. It would go one for a decade or more, and could be likened to a mini ice age. Talk of a third world war has been going on for years, much of the fear driven by the cold war tensions between Russia and America which lasted from 1947 to 1991.
These days there are still concerns that these two nations could come to blows, but the rise in power of China and also the nuclear development program in North Korea, has meant new danger areas are present. Will there be a third world war? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Also be sure to check out our other video called Russian Soldiers vs US soldiers – How do they compare? Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!