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How will Australia fare when a nuclear holocaust takes place?

By Teck Lim - posted Tuesday, 11 July 2023

A chilling youtube presentation on what happens when a nuclear war takes place should be played and replayed all over the world, especially in the media of the west.

Titled "A Simulation: Nuclear war between the US and Russia" this recent presentation by Future of Life Institute, provides a simulation of what happens to life on earth should a nuclear war between the two countries take place.

The prospect of this war happening is possibly the most advanced now with the ongoing war in Ukraine. This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward mainly because of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight - the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.


Since the resetting of the Doomsday Clock in January, Russia's leaders have repeatedly issued charges against the US and "the collective West" for raising the risks of a war over Ukraine. Moscow has also reiterated its willingness to engage in a preemptive strike that may include the use of nuclear weapons.

The video, based on detailed modelling of nuclear targets, missile trajectories, and the effects of blasts, electromagnetic pulse and smoke on the climate and food resources, provides a much more graphic and terrifying depiction of what a nuclear war will bring about to life as we know it in a way that text reports cannot.

Although the simulation is done for the northern hemisphere where the war is waged, the presentation ends with the estimate that over 5 billion people could starve to death including 99 percent of those in the US, Europe, Russia and China.

Australian Casualties in a Nuclear War

Australian casualties have not been included in the video presentation but, according to Dr Ryan Heneghan of the Queensland University of Technology's School of Mathematical Sciences, Australia and New Zealand would be the best places in the world to survive a nuclear war. His paper published in Nature Food in 2022 examined various nuclear winter scenarios and found Australia would be one of the few places where people stayed fed after 'nuclear winter' caused by regional nuclear wars. See

His finding perhaps may have influenced defence and national security policymakers and the government in Australia when it made the recent decision to conclude an unprecedented trilateral security pact with the US and UK directed at China and the Indo-Pacific region - a pact described by former Prime Minister, Paul Keating as the "worst deal in all history".

Since he and his fellow scientists worked on the paper the prospect of Australia's direc involved in a nuclear war much closer to home has emerged as a distinct possibility. With Australia gearing up for a possible war with China and with AUKUS submarines soon prowling around the South China Sea surrounding China and Taiwan, an update on the paper would be useful.


A similar later study by New Zealander academics was equally optimistic that Australia, together with New Zealand and other island nations in the Southern hemisphere, would have survivors in even the most severe scenario and, according to the authors, are "the most resilient nations in the event of nuclear war" (

In the The Guardian report on it, according to one of the scientists, Prof Nick Wilson from the University of Otago: "We have this super efficient food export economy that could feed New Zealanders multiple times over just from exports" Even in the worst-case scenario – a 61% reduction in crops during a prolonged nuclear winter – New Zealanders would still have enough to eat! .

What Happens Beyond Food Needs

Both predominantly food simulation focused papers do not touch on the life and world that survivors of a nucleur war will have to cope with. Any small nucleur war - even a regional one in the South China Sea - can escalate into a world wide one with such dire consequences that those who have survived its initial impact will perhaps not consider themselves as the lucky ones.

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About the Author

Lim Teck Ghee, a former graduate of the Australian National University, is a political analyst in Malaysia. He has a regular column called, ‘Another Take’ in The Sun, one of the nation’s print media.

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