They argue that deploying over this number nuclear weapons would trigger a chain of events resulting in catastrophe for the world, even to the country that fired the missiles. A scenario in which a nation uses over 100 nukes would easily result in a nuclear autumn and likely result in a nuclear winter, where the global temperature would drop because of soot from nuclear blasts blocking the sunlight from reaching Earth's surface.
It would also increase ultraviolet radiation to dangerous levels and create far less rain. This would go on to obliterate agricultural production and food shortages would quickly take hold.
"I don't think rationing would go overly smoothly – a lot more people would die in violence internally than what we estimated based on lack of calories," added Pearce.
Things only get worse from here on in. Food shortages are a sure fire way to promote violence, internal rebellions, and international wars.
The US Castle Bravo Test – the most powerful device ever detonated – on Bikini Atoll, March 1, 1954
All in all, the research highlights the insanity of nuclear war. Along with arguing for massive arsenal reduction, the researchers on the project also push for other policy recommendations in the hopes of warding off this grim fate.
"It is not rational to spend billions of dollars maintaining a nuclear arsenal that would destabilize your country if they were ever used," Pearce says.
"Other countries are far worse off. Even if they fired off relatively few nuclear weapons and were not hit by any of them and did not suffer retaliation, North Korea or Israel would be committing national suicide."
And in case you were wondering, of course, there isn't actually a nuclear red button. This is what it would actually look like.