Several factors can contribute to a nuclear war. For one, it is likely to happen if the US or Russia launches a nuclear weapon against another country without NATO’s involvement. Nuclear escalation is also likely to occur due to a mistake or false alarm. It is a growing risk during times of increased tension and political instability. So, how likely is nuclear war in 2022? The answer is quite high.
In a private project on Metaculus, a group of forecasters were asked to make predictions. They were encouraged to explain their reasoning and to change their forecasts based on new information. They also met in live discussion sessions via Zoom. They gave predictions from one to 99%, but they believed the probability was far lower. Some of the participants even gave the world’s first nuclear war, which has occurred only once in history.
In a nuclear war, two-thirds of the world’s population could die of starvation. The soot emitted by a nuclear weapon would block the sun and disrupt the Earth’s climate. This would disrupt food markets around the world, causing widespread food insecurity. That alone would be far deadlier than the actual nuclear blasts. While the United States and its allies are unlikely to use nuclear weapons in the near future, their enemies may want to use them in order to gain an advantage in a conflict.
Even if the detonation of a single strategic nuclear weapon is limited, the effects would be catastrophic. The explosion of smoke would be so intense that it would reach the stratosphere. A shockwave traveling from the bomb would cause a temperature drop of up to eight hundred miles, causing widespread crop failure. The shockwave would also change ocean temperatures and reduce sunlight, which would affect the life support systems of different species.