Nuke 'em! Daily PlanetWatch for Monday, August 26

Thomas Schueneman

Thinking about the latest environmental news headlines every weekday afternoon from the Daily PlanetWatch
  • Nuke 'em! A scoop from Axios reveals the in his first year in office, President Trump suggested using nuclear bombs to essentially blow up hurricanes before they could make landfall. As uniquely Trumpian as it sounds, the idea was floated long before his presidency, back when Trump was a punk kid from Queens.

    The idea was first floated during the Eisenhower administration. Even though it was quickly understood as clearly a bad idea, it's an idea that has legs. According to an article in National Geographic, "...every year for the past six decades, government agencies have received missives from concerned citizens, urging preemptive attacks against hurricanes using nuclear weapons."

    Few of us understand atomic weapons as anything more than an abstraction. As a young child barey four years old, I can remember the anxiety on my father's face as he loaded supplies in the basement of our house. My dad was a federal employee in Ohio during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was among many such workers told to go home and be with their families. That's as close as I care to come to the reality of nuclear detonation. 

    This abstraction has inclined the idea of "nuking" something is hardly unusual, rather handy in fact. When all else fails, there's always the "nuclear option". Consider how many of us would starve if we couldn't nuke our dinner? 

    As disquieting as it is to hear about Donald Trump asking why we shouldn't detonate atomic bombs in the atmosphere, it is his defenders that arguably pose a greater threat.

    As reported in Axios, an administration official said in Trump's defense: 

    “His goal—to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad," the official said. "What people near the president do is they say, ‘I love a president who asks questions like that, who’s willing to ask tough questions.’”

    There is a disconnect between a belief that human activity is too insignificant to have any substantial impact on global climate, yet consider it feasible, much less advisable, to stop global weather systems in their tracks. Furthermore, mistaking confused thinking with "asking tough questions" is dangerous. 
    But then, when it comes to danger, there's always the nuclear option. 

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