How Long Would It Take for the World to End in a Nuclear War?

Kaylee Everhart

Updated Monday, September 18, 2023 at 1:37 AM CDT

How Long Would It Take for the World to End in a Nuclear War?

Defining the End of the World

When discussing the potential outcome of a nuclear war, it's crucial to define what we mean by "the end of the world." As pointed out by Reddit user KurtWagnerX, it is possible for a significant portion of the population to survive while still experiencing a societal collapse. This means that even in the aftermath of a nuclear war, life could persist, albeit in a drastically different form.

Immediate Devastation and Long-Term Effects

According to user Shiny_Whisper_321, the detonation of all nuclear weapons would likely occur within an hour or so. This rapid destruction would result in the obliteration of major population centers. However, the full impact of a nuclear war would take many years to unfold. Atmospheric changes, fallout spread, and depletion of food stores would have long-lasting effects on the planet.

It's important to note that life, in some form, would likely survive. As Onionmonkies humorously suggests, cockroaches and even Keith Richards might endure a full nuclear exchange. While the immediate aftermath would be devastating, the planet itself would persist. Over time, radiation levels would decrease, eventually returning to background levels. In a few hundred years, humanity might even have the opportunity to rebuild.

Timeframe of Destruction

When considering the timeframe of destruction, opinions vary. User BigBearIsBest succinctly states that it would take approximately 15 minutes for the world to end. This perspective highlights the immediate and catastrophic nature of a nuclear war.

On the other hand, user rhomboidus suggests that it would take a couple of hours for things to be "pretty Fin' wrecked." Multiple major targets would likely face repeated strikes within the first hour. The onslaught of bombs would continue for several days, further exacerbating the devastation.

Strategic Considerations and Survival

User guava_eternal brings up an interesting point regarding the strategic considerations in a nuclear war. They propose that neither side would launch massive volleys all at once. Instead, there would likely be a tit-for-tat exchange, leaving room for potential de-escalation. This approach suggests that even after major cities like Washington, NYC, Beijing, and Tianjin are decimated, there may still be a chance for a withdrawal or negotiation.

The World Persists

Contrary to the post's title, user NixNixonNix asserts that the world wouldn't end in a nuclear war. This perspective emphasizes the resilience of life and the planet itself. While the consequences would be severe, the world would continue to exist, albeit in a vastly altered state.

Unconventional Perspectives

In the midst of this discussion, user jorgerine adds a touch of humor by pointing out the potential confusion between Australia and Austria when it comes to targeting nuclear weapons. This lighthearted comment reminds us that even in the face of such a grim topic, there is room for levity and unconventional thinking.

The timeframe for the world to end in a nuclear war is a complex and multifaceted topic. While immediate devastation would occur within minutes to hours, the long-term effects would unfold over years and even centuries. Life, in some form, would likely persist, and the planet itself would endure. The unconventional perspectives shared by Reddit users remind us to consider the nuances and possibilities beyond the initial question.

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