7 Feb. () –
New Zealand and Australia would be among the few isolated nations that could continue producing enough food to feed its population in a nuclear winter.
In a new study, Professor Nick Wilson of the University of Otago (Wellington) and independent researcher Dr Matt Boyd of Adapt Research say five island nations could be well placed to continue producing food despite reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures caused by soot in the atmosphere after a nuclear war in the northern hemisphere.
Along with Australia (an island continent) and New Zealand, Iceland, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands they would also have a chance of achieving robust food self-sufficiency, even in an extreme nuclear winter.
The study is published in the international journal Risk Analysis.
Professor Wilson says that while New Zealand would probably still be able to produce enough food, its production and distribution were still threatened by the extreme dependence of the country on imported basic productssuch as refined fuel.
The researchers studied the impact on world agricultural production of scenarios of abrupt reduction in sunlight caused by nuclear wars, supervolcano eruptions or asteroid impacts. They applied published crop models under “nuclear winter” conditions to 38 island nations, combining them with other methods to estimate the supply of dietary calories. They also assessed a number of resilience factors that could protect countries from the effects of a nuclear winter.
Dr. Boyd claims it’s a statement that although some nations would probably be able to produce enough food, other factors, such as the collapse of industry and social functioning, They questioned his ability to recover.
Professor Wilson says the findings are in line with a study from the 1980s on the impact of nuclear war on New Zealand, although the country’s resilience has declined since then. by increasing its dependence on imported diesel and digital infrastructures.
“Islands like New Zealand are often highly dependent on imports of refined liquid fuel, may lack energy self-sufficiency, and are susceptible to suffer breakdowns and shortages of critical commodities. Although New Zealand could divert a high proportion of its dairy exports to supply the local market, it lacks the capacity to manufacture many spare parts for agricultural and food processing machinery.”
Dr. Boyd says the study findings reinforce the precarious position that many countries would find themselves in during a global catastrophe.