Letters to the Editor

What’s the threat?

Paraphrasing President Barack Obama from a few weeks ago: Climate change is a greater threat than the Islamic State. Paraphrasing his national security adviser about the same time: The Islamic State is not an existential threat, like World War II.

Translating those confusing words makes climate change more existential than IS terrorism, and possibly as existential as World War II. But there is a confusion inside of that confusion.

World War II was a human response to the threat of Nazi terrorism, and climate change is nature’s response to the threat of human atmospheric pollution. In other words, both are the response to the threat, and not the threat.

Connecting the dots: Atmospheric pollution is a greater threat than IS terrorism, and IS terrorism is not an existential threat like Nazi terrorism or atmospheric pollution. But if atmospheric pollution is as existential as Nazi terrorism, then World War II in response to atmospheric pollution might be just around the corner. Now I understand why President Obama is not concerned about Islamic State terrorism.

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