Considering the nuclear arsenal that existed in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, could it have destroyed the entire world, following the events below?
Edited question a bit:
Considering the nuclear arsenal that existed in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, could it have destroyed all life on the surface of the world, following the events below?
27 October, 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis is at its peak, the USS Beale dropped depth charges on a Russian submarine below it, the B-59. Unbeknownst to the US, this submarine contained a nuclear missile of 15kt. Running out of air, the three Russian officers bickered amongst themselves what to do, and in the end unanimously decided on launching the nuclear missile at the USS Randolf, a giant aircraft carrier. The US then probably would’ve quickly invaded Cuba to neutralise the Russian missiles stationed there, as was already suggested by the Joint Chiefs, before the Russians could prepare the missiles for launch. Although there were short range nuclear missiles on Cuba for exactly such an attempt, and the approaching US forces would have been decimated by these short range missiles. Then the US would most likely retaliate again by just dropping nuclear bombs on Cuba using the Air Force Bombers that were already in the air.
Following this is retaliation after retaliation until there were no bombs left or until bombs couldn't be launched anymore.
So considering the powers that held the nuclear weapons, mostly the US and USSR (and a couple European countries), would their squabble destroy all life on the surface of the world?
I'd imagine that neither the US and USSR or any of the European countries had any interest in throwing a nuke at, for example, New Zealand.
- Would this place still be destroyed by the following radiation and/or nuclear winter?
- And how destroyed would it be? Could plants survive, insects, or nothing at all?
- Could humans, that sheltered underground, survive and grow crops on the land again in the near future after the war? (Near future would be within 50 years)
Edit: After reading all the comments and answers going in the direction of how to kill all life on earth, that was not my intention. I only wanted to know if, back then, the amount of nuclear warheads that existed would have killed all/most life on earth - which was actually not what I wanted.
I am building a post nuclear war world that escalated from the Cold War, with a destroyed surface, but capable of rebuilding a society (fairly) quickly. Thanks to a couple answers I now know that the southern hemisphere would be less affected, giving me many great ideas.
Apologies for the lack of motive behind this question that got some people going in an unintended direction!