We Have Enough Nuclear Bombs to Kill EVERYONE 130 Times

A 10 kiloton nuclear weapon can kill 1.32 million people.  The 15,000 nuclear weapons globally could cause 19,500 megadeaths.

A 10-kiloton nuclear weapon can kill 1.3 million people. However, a more awesome way to put it would be to say it can cause 1.3 megadeaths.

There are 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The US and Russia account for nearly 90 percent of that total.

So, theoretically, 19,500 megadeaths (or 19.5 gigadeaths) could be produced by our current arsenal.  There are 7.5 billion people in the world.  Hence, it should be possible to kill everyone on the planet 2.6 times.

As of 2017, the US has an estimated 4,018 nuclear weapons in either deployment or storage. So, the US would be capable of killing 5.2 billion people.  That leaves 2.3 billion people that we’d still need to kill.  However, if we killed everyone in Russia first, we could steal their bombs and kill everyone on the planet 2.6 times.

Between 1940 and 1996, the U.S. spent $8.63 trillion on nuclear weapons development.

Nuclear Winter

Even worse, the world’s nuclear weapons could theoretically trigger between 13 and 130 extinction-level events after considering the catastrophic effects of nuclear winter.

Theoretical Kill Capability

A simplified calculation suggests that the global nuclear arsenal has the “theoretical kill capability” to exterminate the world’s population, roughly 8 billion people, approximately 1.625 times based solely on direct impacts. This calculation, however, does not account for the complex dynamics of nuclear detonations, including blast radius, population density, and the varying yields of nuclear warheads.

The Specter of Nuclear Winter

Scientific studies suggest that even a limited exchange of 100 to 1,000 nuclear warheads could inject enough soot and particulates into the stratosphere to significantly block sunlight, disrupt global climate systems, and precipitate a nuclear winter. The resulting global cooling and reduction in precipitation could devastate agricultural production, leading to widespread famine and societal collapse.

Assumptions for Estimation

  • Direct Impact Assumption: An average of 1 million fatalities per detonation, for an initial 100 to 1,000 detonations, yields 100 million to 1 billion immediate fatalities.
  • Nuclear Winter Scenario: The subsequent global agricultural collapse could affect billions, far exceeding the immediate fatalities from the detonations themselves.

Calculating Extinction-Level Events

  • Lower Bound (100 warheads/event): Given the arsenal’s size, 130 scenarios could each theoretically trigger conditions leading to a global catastrophe.
  • Upper Bound (1,000 warheads/event): Conversely, 13 larger-scale scenarios could have a similar potential for triggering a catastrophic nuclear winter.


So the global nuclear arsenal holds not just the capacity for immediate destruction but also the potential to trigger long-term ecological and societal collapse on a scale hitherto unimagined. While the direct impact of nuclear detonations presents an immediate threat, nuclear winter could lead to conditions causing widespread famine and collapse.

The potential for multiple extinction-level events posed by the current global nuclear arsenal should serve as a catalyst for urgent action. Reducing the number of nuclear warheads and committing to non-proliferation are critical steps toward mitigating the risk of a nuclear winter and safeguarding the future of humanity. In the quest for global security and survival, the path forward must prioritize diplomacy, international cooperation, and a collective commitment to eliminating the specter of nuclear annihilation.

Questions For YOU!

  • How many nuclear bombs should we have? 
  • How likely are we to be killed by a foreign power than by a disease like cancer or Alzheimers? 
  • How much should we be spending on research to cure diseases relative to building more nuclear weapons? 

Please let me know in the comments!