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Food found that could save over a billion people from hunger after a nuclear war

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
A nuclear winter could commence on Earth as a result of a nuclear explosion

The threat of nuclear war posed by officials of the aggressor country, Russia, could lead to global famine, as soot would block the sun and halt food production. Seaweed might be one of the best options to save billions of people.

This is stated in a study published in the scientific journal Earth's Future. Previous studies have shown that global fires after a nuclear war would release 150 million tons of soot into the atmosphere, darkening the sun and causing a 9°C drop in temperature. Under such conditions, global agricultural food production could decline by 90% in the first year of a nuclear winter, pushing people to the brink of starvation.

The study's author, Florian Ulrich Jahn of the Feeding the Earth in Disaster Alliance, and his colleagues conducted simulations that found that even under such conditions, seaweed in places like the eastern Pacific could still grow by 13% per day.

Further modeling has shown that within 9-14 months, seaweed grown on ropes between buoys could provide up to 15% of the food currently consumed by humans, 10% of animal feed, and 50% of biofuel production.

According to scientists, this could save up to 1.2 billion people from starvation.

Scientists have also determined that in the tropics and partially in the subtropics, there will still be enough heat and light for the growth of some land crops and seaweed. This would be due to the fact that during a nuclear winter, cooling surface waters would sink and cause nutrient-rich deep waters to rise. This would greatly expand the area suitable for growing seaweed such as Gracilaria tikvahiae, a red algae currently grown for food in Asian countries.

In addition to nuclear war, other cataclysmic events can also obscure the sun, such as a collision between Earth and an asteroid or comet, or a large volcanic eruption. For example, the 1816 eruption of Mount Tambora in modern-day Indonesia led to a massive crop failure in the northern hemisphere.

At the same time, the authors of the study urge not to postpone their data for later but to start growing more seaweed now.

As New Scientist notes, a 2023 United Nations report states that farmed algae is a low-carbon source of protein and other nutrients that can improve food security. However, it also says that seaweed can absorb dangerous levels of heavy metals in polluted waters, so excessive consumption "may have adverse health effects."

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