One thing to keep in mind is that that world has already come close to nuclear war twice, once in 1962 and once in 1983.
In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a Soviet sub was prepared to launch a nuclear torpedo, believing that war had begun. A unanimous vote among
the top three officers was required to launch the torpedo, and only one of the three voted against it. The launch of a nuclear torpedo against the US
could have easily resulted in a retaliatory strike against the Soviet Union, and since a nuclear torpedo would have already been used, nuclear war
would have been likely. We have our buddy Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov
for saving the world here.
In 1983, two false alarms could have convnced the Soviets that the US had launched a nuclear attack. Due to the doctrine of MAD, the Soviets would
have launched everything back at the US. Luckily, Stanislav Petrov
, the guy monitoring the
equipment, dismissed both false alarms. If he had reported the missiles, however, the Soviets may have struck back. The US, seeing it as an unprovoked
attack, would launched everything back at the Soviets (against, thanks to MAD).
Mutually Assured Destruction isn't infallible. There are two sides to it. It does provide a strong deterrence, but once the first strike has been
made, it ensures completely nuclear destruction. The debris would block the sun, likely causing a nuclear winter. People who weren't killed by the
initial blasts or the radiation/fallout within the first few months would now be facing starvation, since plants would die, as would the herbivores
that feed on them (which we eat). Survivors would be forced to live in barely-habitable locations as all the most-habitable places had the biggest
populations, and were this probably targets. Land and water for thousands of miles would be highly irradiated and thus quite lethal, with winter and
currents scattering the radiation even further. Would it be the end of all life? Probably not, but it would be a stone age existence for the few
humans that were left. Undeveloped countries would fare the best since they wouldn't be primary targets and their populations are much less dependent
I think nuclear war, if it ever does occur, will be the result of some accident or bad information. MAD is probably enough to keep it from being
started on purpose, but, as the name implies, it will ensure completely destruction once it has started, accidentally or not.
edit on 21-3-2011
by Tsuki-no-Hikari because: (no reason given)