A nuclear war would be disastrous for the earth’s climate, according to a recent piece in the Atlantic that drew harsh criticism for its focus on the harms posed to the environment by a potential nuclear exchange resulting from the current conflict in Ukraine.
The Wednesday essay, titled “On Top of Everything Else, Nuclear War Would Be a Climate Problem,” was penned by Atlantic staff writer Robinson Meyer and began by noting climate change is often associated with energy policy.
“When we talk about what causes climate change, we usually talk about oil and gas, coal and cars, and—just generally—energy policy. There’s a good reason for this,” he wrote, adding the “more fossil fuels you burn, the worse climate change gets.”
Consequently, Meyer explains he spent much time “covering the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the country’s fuel-economy standards.”
“It was an awful policy, one that would have led to more oil consumption for decades to come,” he wrote. “If pressed, I would have said that it had a single-digit-percentage chance of creating an uninhabitable climate system.”
However, the author says, energy is not the sole domain that “has a direct bearing on whether we have a livable climate or not,” but “foreign policy—specifically, nuclear war” does too.
“Since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago, that threat has become a lot more real,” he wrote.
He then warned of imposing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, claiming it would lead to an open war between the U.S. and Russia, with a likely chance of a nuclear exchange that would ultimately prove disastrous for the climate.
“And it would be worse for the climate than any energy policy that Donald Trump ever proposed,” he wrote.
“If you are worried about rapid, catastrophic changes to the planet’s climate, then you must be worried about nuclear war,” he added. “That is because, on top of killing tens of millions of people, even a relatively ‘minor’ exchange of nuclear weapons would wreck the planet’s climate in enormous and long-lasting ways.”
Meyer, who is also the cofounder of the magazine’s COVID Tracking Project, calls on readers to imagine the detonation of a megaton nuke that would “sear and blister” the flesh of those within several miles of the blast.
A detonation of a bomb that size would, within about a four-mile radius, produce winds equal to those in a Category 5 hurricane, immediately flattening buildings, knocking down power lines, and triggering gas leaks. Anyone within seven miles of the detonation would suffer third-degree burns, the kind that sear and blister flesh. These conditions—and note that I have left out the organ-destroying effects of radiation—would rapidly turn an eight-mile blast radius into a zone of total human misery.
The essay was met with criticism and mockery.
“The Atlantic is going to put my @TheBabylonBee writers out of a job pretty quick here,” wrote Babylon Bee editor-in-chief Kyle Mann. “We just can’t compete with satire this good.”
“The elitist Left has gone truly insane,” wrote radio host Buck Sexton. “That’s not hyperbole, it’s an observation.”
“Of course a nuclear war would kill tens of millions but it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be so good for the climate,” wrote media contributor Joel M. Petlin. “Brilliant!”
“Maybe we should try to avoid a nuclear war, just like the @TheAtlantic should avoid publishing silly articles,” he added.
“Environmentalism is petty bourgeois radicalism,” wrote actor Travis Wester.
“It will also be a major step back in addressing trans rights and heteronormative white supremacy,” wrote Reclaim party leader Laurence Fox.
“Next from the Atlantic: ‘A nuclear war wipes out all life on planet earth, women and people of color hurt the most,’” wrote political consultant Ryan James Girdusky.
“We truly live in the dumbest period of human history,” wrote Chris Curtis, head of political polling at Opinium Research.
“Is this seriously the only way that you think you can get your readership to care about the deaths of tens of millions of people?” a Twitter user asked.
“Ok NOW I’m convinced nuclear war is bad,” quipped another.
“It’d kill tens of millions of people but – far more importantly – it’d be disastrous for climate change!!!!” another wrote sarcastically.
“If you write a headline and it sounds like one from The Babylon Bee or The Onion, maybe ya shouldn’t publish it,” wrote another user.
This is an excerpt from Breitbart.
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