Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Termites and the Coming Nuclear Holocaust

Once upon a time in the American West lived some pioneers, the Hooper family.  They lived in a comfortable log cabin with a lovely straw roof on the edge of the forest.  Let's listen in as the Hoopers have dinner:

Sallie:  We learned today in school about how termites can destroy a house.
Mr. Hooper:  Yep, that's the reason every Friday night we take our kerosene lanterns and spend a few hours searching through the roof thatch to look for those pesky pests.Brother Jed coming in the door:  I just chopped down the Christmas tree - it's a bute!
Sallie:  It is beautiful Jed! Let's check it for termites now - I'll run get a candle.
Mrs. Hooper:  Jed, just put the tree down next to the bale of hay on the other side of the fireplace - next to the barrel of kerosene.
Jed: Ok, Mom.
Mrs. Hooper: Hey, let's decorate the tree now!  Here's a bunch of small candles.  Let's tie them on the tree and light up this room.
[Later that night]
Sallie:  The tree is so beautiful with all the candles burning bright!  Can we let them burn all night to  keep the termites away?
Mrs. Hooper:  Of course!

The Hoopers are obsessed with termites destroying their home, yet are oblivious to the real threat to their lives.
In the same way the media and politicians today are obsessed with Global Warming Climate Change, but devote little attention to the real existential threat to all life on earth - a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia.

We have had many close calls when due to equipment malfunction or human error, the missiles almost launched - seriously.  Sometimes the launch was prevented by a lone individual who just refused to push the button.

Our leaders need to be obsessing on ways to reduce the likelihood of an accidental launch of missiles that could destroy all human life on earth.

Oh, yeah, the Hoopers?  Thanks to Jed's quick thinking later that night, they all escaped the inferno that was their home with only minor injuries.

And for your viewing pleasure, a related video from the 80s at no charge:

1 comment:

Dan said...

Good point.

We are not at the height of the tensions of the Cold War, but the weapons are still there. As the historian Gwynne Dyer wrote, "total war is only sleeping....all that is needed for the world to fall back into a nuclear confrontation is a twist of the kaleidoscope that shifts international relations into a new pattern of rival alliances." Source

But, look, some people might have to vacate an island in 30 years!

I think the climate is changing, and I think humans are partially responsible, but I agree that we've failed to rank our existential threats properly.

Solid post.