Everyone knows “The Merry Minuet,” first popularized by Tom Lehrer, and the Kingston Trio, over fifty years ago:
They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain
But we can be tranquil and thankful
And proud for man's been endowed
With a mushroom shaped cloud
And we know for certain that
Some lovely day someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away
What nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man
Songwriter: SHELDON HARNICK
Published by Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC
The devastation from global warming is likely to be comparable in scope to what would result from a worldwide nuclear war, though the latter would happen in a matter of hours, while the former will take a century.
Back then, our major concern was nuclear war. Natural disaster was, well, natural. Now, though, we have human-induced climate change to go along with the still significant risk of nuclear war. Global warming due to greenhouse gases promises to melt the polar icecaps, raise sea levels, destroy habitats like Arctic tundra, spread deserts, and subject us all to unusual and severe weather.
The devastation from global warming is likely to be comparable in scope to what would result from a worldwide nuclear war, though the latter would happen in a matter of hours, while the former will take a century. It is striking that we (humankind) have not found the will either to eliminate nuclear weapons or to make the changes it would take to head off global warming.
Have you noticed that both of these intractable problems are caused by us, by humans? By continuing on our present course, feeding global warming, we can expect more of the general ugliness described in the song, as peoples increasingly compete for habitable land. And with no effective controls over nuclear proliferation, more and more desperate governments (not to mention terrorists) are likely to acquire nuclear weapons. And as things get worse, they’ll nuke their adversaries to get them out of the way and seize their land. Or just to be mean.
So, we caused both problems. But here’s the sweet part: we can also be the solution. Global warming will lead to nuclear war; nuclear war will lead to widespread human annihilation, AND a nuclear winter that will negate global warming! And since the few remaining humans will be incapable of warming the globe again, it should only take the planet a few million years to recover from this unfortunate evolutionary blind alley that we call homo sapiens.
Or, we could come to our senses and deal with both problems. But I’m trying to be realistic here.