| ]

The article “Nuclear Winter” was written in 1983 by Carl Sagan who was a renowned professor of astronomy and space sciences at Cornell University. This article aimed to provide evidence on the climatic effects of nuclear war. The writer says that in a nuclear war great quantity of soot and dust is lifted to the upper atmosphere which forms a layer that hinders the sunrays. Thus sunlight is reduced and severe cold weather sets in. At the time of its publication the article was of great public debate because United States and Soviet Union, which were both nuclear powers, were on the verge of war. So, there was every possibility that a devastating nuclear war would start. Although the article holds importance because it discusses new dangers of atomic war and emphasizes on finding a theoretical solution to the problem, it has some limitations like overstating the danger and its insignificance in the world of today.  
The writer starts the article by stating some statistics about the possible destruction that a nuclear warhead can bring. Then he talks about ozone depletion as a result of nuclear explosions. In nuclear explosions nitrogen of the air is converted into oxides which destroy the ozone layer.  Carl Sagan along with other colleagues, for the first time, researched on the climatic effects of the nuclear war. In his experiment, he assumed 5000 megaton warheads. As a result he found that due to the smoke and dust generated in the explosion, the temperature is liable to fall to minus 25 degree Celsius for months. Moreover due to the temperature drop, he says that all crops and animals would be destroyed. Similarly radioactive dose greater than 250 radiations will be received by 50 percent of northern hemisphere when the dust particles would start to descend. In the end he mentions that before fools rise to power and use nuclear weapons, we should find some theoretical solution to the problem.
The style of the article is informative with simple and easy language which enables almost every kind of reader to easily understand the purpose of the article. Moreover, it keeps its readers involved till the end because in every new paragraph they can find new and exciting information. However, the tone of the essay is too strong for the readers because the writer uses words and phrases like buildings would be vaporized, people reduced to atoms and shadows, extinction of human species, unburied bodies begin to thaw etc. The writer himself points towards this fact when at one place he says “some of what I am about to describe is horrifying”. That is why after reading the article, a reader becomes fear stricken and nervous.
In order to convince the readers about the authenticity of his own claim, the writer is using an effective technique of mentioning the names of few renowned scientists who agree with his work. For instance, he says “our work was further spurred by Paul Crutzen … and by John Bricks”. Similarly in the ending paragraphs he again uses this technique by saying that their results have been scrutinized by more than 100 scientists from United States, Europe and Soviet Union. As a result, his claims become convincing and reliable.
Throughout the essay the author has made vivid assumptions in order to support his argument. However at some places, the author has over assumed in some of his claims to back up his argument. For instance, he says that once nuclear war gets started, the world will not be able to contain or control it and at least 10,000 megatons will be exploded. But, at present, highly influential international organizations like United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are functioning all around the world which is capable of stopping the series of atomic explosions. Similarly, the author is assuming Earth’s atmosphere to be comparable to that of Mars. But due to the presence of life at Earth and its absence on Mars, the atmosphere of both can be much different as far as gases like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide are concerned because these gases are produced by living organisms. So, Earth’s and Martian atmosphere cannot be assumed to be comparable. That is why the author is overstating the danger by using inappropriate assumptions.        
Through this article, the author is informing the world about three previously unknown risks of nuclear war i.e. the cold, the dark and the intense radioactivity. It is a fact that people and authorities try to quickly solve those problems whose dangers and risks are of high scale. Before Carl Sagan’s research, world knew only about the dangers of ozone depletion, huge loss of lives and economic instability as a result of nuclear war. So by mentioning these three dangers, Sagan has motivated the world to get rid of nuclear weapons due to which the article gains value.
The article enjoyed a lot of significance at the time of its publication but in the world of today this article loses some of its importance mainly because of two reasons i.e. unipolar world and advanced technology. After the dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991, the world is no more bipolar. The cold war between US and Soviet Union has come to an end with US left as the only superpower of the world. So, there is not much tension in the world politics as compared to that in 1980s. Also, the advancement made in technology like Missile Defense System, has enabled us to avoid the dangers of nuclear bombs. So, the fear of nuclear war has been reduced to some extent due to which this article loses some of its importance.
However, one of the praiseworthy and valuable aspects of the article is that it warns the world about the fact that we can find only a theoretical solution to the problem of nuclear weapons.  The writer says “nuclear war is a problem which can be treated theoretically”. It is known that in a nuclear war about 5,000 megatons are expected to be blown. Also it is a fact that the world cannot bear any experimentation with the nuclear warheads of such large scale in order to convince nuclear powers to abandon their nuclear weapons. Therefore, according to the writer, nuclear states must be convinced theoretically through researches and dialogues to get rid of these weapons. So, this suggestion raises the value of the article.
Concluding from the above discussion, it can be stated that the author’s research contributes a lot to the world peace. It is the mainly the fear of misuse of nuclear weapons any time in the future that is deteriorating the world peace at present. Although there exist certain structural and linguistic defects in the article, he is still quite effective in revealing the main idea that nuclear war will bring about unbearable conditions of severe cold and intense radioactivity. In order to pay tribute to the praiseworthy and valuable research of the author, the world authorities should take some serious steps to at least control the nuclear proliferation.  

                                                                                                        Written By: Fawad Marwat

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...