Climate change will be worsened by nuclear war, says the Atlantic
With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the increasing unpredictability of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, the increasingly unwinnable situation in Ukraine, and the fact that Putin is running out of options, there has been some talk that Putin might resort to using nuclear weapons. Putin has already put his nuclear forces on high alert, which rightly makes many people very nervous.
One of these was a writer at the Atlantic, but for all the wrong reasons.
In a laughable article titled "On Top of Everything Else, Nuclear War Would Be a Climate Problem" by Robinson Meyer, it is suggested that "climate change" that might result from a nuclear exchange is the bigger of the two problems.
Let that sink in.
On social media, the Atlantic posted this on Twitter:
"A nuclear war would kill tens of millions of people -- and would also prove disastrous for climate change, writes @robinsonmeyer"
Reaction was swift and eviscerating. Kyle Mann, the founder of the popular political satire site The Babylon Bee, had this to say: "The Atlantic is going to put my @TheBabylonBee writers out of a job pretty quick here. We just can't compete with satire this good."
Media personality Buck Sexton also weighed in on the Atlantic story: "The elitist Left has gone truly insane. That's not hyperbole, it's an observation."
So here is the question: is the Atlantic so tone-deaf that the people running it think anyone would be left around who could actually give a damn about climate change in a post–nuclear war world? It seems to me, and this should be obvious for anyone who's not caught up in the erroneous viewpoint that climate change is an "existential threat," that climate change would become exponentially lower on mankind's list of things to worry about. In fact, compared to food, water, housing, energy, sanitation, communications, and an entire laundry list of day-to-day survival needs, I'm quite certain "climate change" would rank rock bottom amongst non-elite normal people who are just trying to survive.
But the tone-deafness does not end there. Consider what John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, had to say about the Ukraine invasion in an interview Monday on BBC Arabic, as reported by Fox News:
"But it could have a profound negative impact on the climate, obviously. You have a war and obviously you're going to have massive emissions consequences to the war," Kerry said.
Kerry added, "And so I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate."
One has to wonder what Kerry is smoking these days. If there were an award for tone-deafness related to climate change, Kerry and the Atlantic would certainly be top contenders.
The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer says that even a minor nuclear exchange would "wreck" the climate:
I mean this quite literally. If you are worried about rapid, catastrophic changes to the planet's climate, then you must be worried about nuclear war. 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.
He goes on about the long-discredited "nuclear winter" scenario:
And even though the world would get cooler, the nuclear winter resulting from a full-blown global conflict (or even 'nuclear fall,' as some researchers prefer) would not reverse the effect of what we might morbidly call 'traditional' human-caused climate change.
Perhaps the polar bears would benefit from the colder weather of nuclear winter, and the few scraggly humans left to observe this could finally stop worrying about the claims that polar bears are endangered.
In an article, "Nuclear Winter Reappraised," in the 1986 summer issue of Foreign Affairs, climate scientists decided that it wasn't a likely scenario after all.
They showed that on scientific grounds, the global apocalyptic conclusions of the initial nuclear winter hypothesis can now be relegated to a "vanishing low level of probability." Yet the scariness of the scenario has let it survive as a threat quoted by media outlets today.
Nuclear winter or not, post-apocalyptic concern over "climate change" assumes there's anyone left to care. As Charlton Heston once mused on The Rush Limbaugh Show, "the Earth will survive, replenish itself, and evolve — without humans."
In the meantime, we have many more pressing concerns.
Anthony Watts (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute.