Nu­clear warfare

TagLast edit: 4 Aug 2021 18:03 UTC by Jay

Nuclear warfare is military conflict involving the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear war is potentially the primary near-term anthropogenic existential risk. Nuclear war would probably not cause human extinction through the direct damage of an exchange. Rather, researchers are concerned about the potential for a nuclear winter: firestorms caused by the explosions could release particulate matter into the stratosphere, causing significant global cooling which would last for several years. This cooling would disrupt global agriculture, which would likely kill many more people than the initial exchange (Robock 2010).

However, there is some disagreement about how climate systems would react to the particulate matter and how much soot would actually be created (modern cities are potentially less vulnerable to firestorms than those during the cold war). As a result, it is unclear whether nuclear war poses an existential risk or a non-existential global catastrophic risk.


80,000 Hours rates nuclear security a “second-highest priority area”: an unusually pressing global problem ranked slightly below their four highest priority areas (80,000 Hours 2021).


80,000 Hours (2021) Our current list of the most important world problems, 80,000 Hours.

Cotton-Barratt, Owen et al. (2016) Global catastrophic risks 2016, Annual Report, Global Challenges Foundation/​Global Priorities Project.
A report focusing on risks from nuclear war, as well as other types of global catastrophic risk.

Open Philanthropy (2015) Nuclear weapons policy, Open Philanthropy, September.
A report exploring possible interventions to address risks from nuclear war.


External Links


Related entries

armed conflict | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | civilizational collapse | Cuban Missile Crisis | existential risk | existential risk factor | Manhattan Project | nuclear winter | nuclear disarmament movement | Nuclear Threat Initiative | Russell-Einstein Manifesto | Trinity

Will the Treaty on the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Nu­clear Weapons af­fect nu­clear de­pro­lifer­a­tion through le­gal chan­nels?

Luisa_Rodriguez6 Dec 2019 10:38 UTC
98 points
5 comments32 min readEA link

Which nu­clear wars should worry us most?

Luisa_Rodriguez16 Jun 2019 23:31 UTC
93 points
12 comments6 min readEA link

How bad would nu­clear win­ter caused by a US-Rus­sia nu­clear ex­change be?

Luisa_Rodriguez20 Jun 2019 1:48 UTC
88 points
11 comments43 min readEA link

How many peo­ple would be kil­led as a di­rect re­sult of a US-Rus­sia nu­clear ex­change?

Luisa_Rodriguez30 Jun 2019 3:00 UTC
86 points
17 comments52 min readEA link

Would US and Rus­sian nu­clear forces sur­vive a first strike?

Luisa_Rodriguez18 Jun 2019 0:28 UTC
74 points
4 comments24 min readEA link

How likely is a nu­clear ex­change be­tween the US and Rus­sia?

Luisa_Rodriguez20 Jun 2019 1:49 UTC
63 points
10 comments14 min readEA link

Nu­clear war is un­likely to cause hu­man extinction

landfish7 Nov 2020 5:39 UTC
36 points
23 comments11 min readEA link

Up­dated es­ti­mates of the sever­ity of a nu­clear war

Luisa_Rodriguez19 Dec 2019 15:11 UTC
56 points
1 comment5 min readEA link

Some global catas­trophic risk estimates

Tamay10 Feb 2021 19:32 UTC
100 points
12 comments1 min readEA link

Key points from The Dead Hand, David E. Hoffman

Kit9 Aug 2019 13:59 UTC
71 points
8 comments7 min readEA link

Notes on ‘Atomic Ob­ses­sion’ (2009)

lukeprog26 Oct 2019 0:30 UTC
61 points
16 comments8 min readEA link

[Question] Pro­jects tack­ling nu­clear risk?

Sanjay29 May 2020 22:41 UTC
29 points
4 comments1 min readEA link

Get­ting Nu­clear Policy Right Is Hard

Gentzel19 Sep 2017 1:00 UTC
16 points
5 commentsEA link

Does the US nu­clear policy still tar­get cities?

landfish2 Oct 2019 17:46 UTC
32 points
0 comments10 min readEA link

The Threat of Nu­clear Ter­ror­ism MOOC [link]

RyanCarey19 Oct 2017 12:31 UTC
7 points
0 commentsEA link

Have we un­der­es­ti­mated the risk of a NATO-Rus­sia nu­clear war? Can we do any­thing about it?

TopherHallquist9 Jul 2015 16:09 UTC
8 points
21 commentsEA link

China’s Z-Ma­chine, a test fa­cil­ity for nu­clear weapons

EdoArad13 Dec 2018 7:03 UTC
11 points
0 commentsEA link

Book re­view: The Dooms­day Machine

eukaryote10 Sep 2018 1:43 UTC
41 points
5 commentsEA link

The Nu­clear Threat Ini­ti­a­tive is not only nu­clear—notes from a call with NTI

Sanjay26 Jun 2020 17:29 UTC
29 points
2 comments6 min readEA link

Why those who care about catas­trophic and ex­is­ten­tial risk should care about au­tonomous weapons

aaguirre11 Nov 2020 17:27 UTC
95 points
30 comments19 min readEA link

[Question] What is the im­pact of the Nu­clear Ban Treaty?

DonyChristie29 Nov 2020 0:26 UTC
22 points
3 comments2 min readEA link

Cost-Effec­tive­ness of Foods for Global Catas­tro­phes: Even Bet­ter than Be­fore?

Denkenberger19 Nov 2018 21:57 UTC
23 points
4 commentsEA link

Should we be spend­ing no less on al­ter­nate foods than AI now?

Denkenberger29 Oct 2017 23:28 UTC
36 points
9 commentsEA link

Alli­ance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) Progress Re­port & Giv­ing Tues­day Appeal

Denkenberger21 Nov 2018 5:20 UTC
18 points
3 commentsEA link

ALLFED 2020 Highlights

AronM19 Nov 2020 22:06 UTC
48 points
5 comments26 min readEA link

ALLFED 2019 An­nual Re­port and Fundrais­ing Appeal

AronM23 Nov 2019 2:05 UTC
37 points
12 comments21 min readEA link

[Question] Books /​ book re­views on nu­clear risk, WMDs, great power war?

MichaelA15 Dec 2020 1:40 UTC
15 points
15 comments1 min readEA link

What is the like­li­hood that civ­i­liza­tional col­lapse would di­rectly lead to hu­man ex­tinc­tion (within decades)?

Luisa_Rodriguez24 Dec 2020 22:10 UTC
201 points
29 comments50 min readEA link

What’s the big deal about hy­per­sonic mis­siles?

Jia18 May 2020 7:17 UTC
37 points
8 comments5 min readEA link

Notes on Schel­ling’s “Strat­egy of Con­flict” (1960)

MichaelA29 Jan 2021 8:56 UTC
20 points
3 comments8 min readEA link

Notes on “The Bomb: Pres­i­dents, Gen­er­als, and the Se­cret His­tory of Nu­clear War” (2020)

MichaelA6 Feb 2021 11:10 UTC
17 points
5 comments8 min readEA link

[Notes] Steven Pinker and Yu­val Noah Harari in conversation

Louis_Dixon9 Feb 2020 12:49 UTC
29 points
2 comments7 min readEA link

Carl Ro­bichaud: Fac­ing the risk of nu­clear war in the 21st century

EA Global15 Jul 2020 17:17 UTC
12 points
0 comments12 min readEA link

Seth Baum: Rec­on­cil­ing in­ter­na­tional security

EA Global8 Jun 2018 7:15 UTC
8 points
0 comments15 min readEA link

Luisa Ro­driguez: The like­li­hood and sever­ity of a US-Rus­sia nu­clear exchange

EA Global18 Oct 2019 18:05 UTC
8 points
0 comments1 min readEA link

Ja­cob Cates and Aron Mill: Scal­ing in­dus­trial food pro­duc­tion in nu­clear winter

EA Global18 Oct 2019 18:05 UTC
8 points
0 comments1 min readEA link

Fi­nal Re­port of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion on Ar­tifi­cial In­tel­li­gence (NSCAI, 2021)

MichaelA1 Jun 2021 8:19 UTC
51 points
3 comments4 min readEA link

Some AI Gover­nance Re­search Ideas

MarkusAnderljung3 Jun 2021 10:51 UTC
78 points
5 comments2 min readEA link

Overview of Re­think Pri­ori­ties’ work on risks from nu­clear weapons

MichaelA10 Jun 2021 18:48 UTC
34 points
1 comment3 min readEA link

An­nounc­ing the Nu­clear Risk Fore­cast­ing Tournament

MichaelA16 Jun 2021 16:12 UTC
37 points
0 comments2 min readEA link

Database of ex­is­ten­tial risk estimates

MichaelA15 Apr 2020 12:43 UTC
89 points
35 comments5 min readEA link

Why Don’t We Use Chem­i­cal Weapons Any­more?

Dale23 Apr 2020 1:25 UTC
28 points
4 comments3 min readEA link

4 Years Later: Pres­i­dent Trump and Global Catas­trophic Risk

HaydnBelfield25 Oct 2020 16:28 UTC
23 points
9 comments9 min readEA link

Con­flict and poverty (or should we tackle poverty in nu­clear con­texts more?)

Sanjay6 Mar 2020 21:59 UTC
13 points
0 comments7 min readEA link

Should Effec­tive Altru­ism be at war with North Korea?

BenHoffman5 May 2019 1:44 UTC
−11 points
8 comments5 min readEA link

Luisa Ro­driguez: How to do em­piri­cal cause pri­ori­ti­za­tion re­search

EA Global21 Nov 2020 8:12 UTC
6 points
0 comments1 min readEA link

Kris­tian Rönn: Global challenges

EA Global11 Aug 2017 8:19 UTC
6 points
0 comments1 min readEA link

[Question] How many times would nu­clear weapons have been used if ev­ery state had them since 1950?

eca4 May 2021 15:34 UTC
16 points
13 comments1 min readEA link

The NPT: Learn­ing from a Longter­mist Suc­cess [Links!]

DannyBressler20 May 2021 0:39 UTC
66 points
6 comments2 min readEA link