Courtesy Reuters

Apocalyptic visions of the environmental effects of nuclear war have been a part of our popular culture for decades. But apart from appreciating any entertainment value, the cognoscenti of nuclear war have regarded the doomsday predictions as ignorant at best, or dangerous propaganda at worst. The potential global environmental effects of nuclear explosions that were known before 1982—radioactive fallout and the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer—were almost universally accepted in the strategic weapons community as being far short of true doomsday proportions. Indeed, for the combatant nations, such uncertain "secondary" effects were thought to pale before the assured

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