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A Nuclear Winter's TaleScience and Politics in the 1980s$
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Lawrence Badash

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012720

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012720.001.0001

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Nuclear Peril

Nuclear Peril

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Nuclear Peril
Source:
A Nuclear Winter's Tale
Author(s):

Lawrence Badash

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012720.003.0001

In 1983, Carl Sagan, a planetary astronomer and a renowned science popularizer, coined the phrase “nuclear winter” to describe the effects on Earth’s climate of the explosion of nuclear weapons. This book examines one of the effects of nuclear explosions: decreased temperature and illumination caused by reduced sunlight. As an introduction, this chapter looks at attempts to predict certain climatic consequences of nuclear war and considers the obscuration of sunlight as the main mechanism, with ozone depletion and the altered reflection of sunlight as additional paths. It also examines some of the effects of nuclear weapons, from electromagnetic pulse and ozone depletion to radioactive fallout, global incineration, and climate change. These effects appear to be disparate, but are nevertheless linked by the geographical extent of their consequences.

Keywords:   nuclear winter, Carl Sagan, nuclear weapons, nuclear war, nuclear explosions, ozone depletion, electromagnetic pulse, radioactive fallout, global incineration, climate change

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