Climate change is finally beginning to receive the attention that it deserves. Greta Thunberg, the 15 year old climate activist, is lecturing world leaders and taking the globe by storm. Climate change deniers are experiencing increasing difficulty finding an audience who will take them seriously. It’s surely welcome news that climate change activism is becoming a global focus.

To some it might seem that nuclear weapons are a different topic that we don’t really have time for as the climate crisis becomes ever more serious. But really, climate change and nuclear weapons are the same topic, as a nuclear weapons exchange could very well be the final chapter of the climate change story.

Before climate change could spin out of control and destroy the environment it would disrupt the global geo-political order. Mass migrations and resource depletion would cause governments to take increasingly desperate steps to maintain control over their societies, and one predictable outcome of such desperation would be increased conflict between nations.

Ira Helfand, a leader of the International Campaign To Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), writes on the CNN website

Climate change and the danger of nuclear war are closely related. As climate change progresses over the coming decades, large areas of the planet will be unable to support their human population. As a result, there will likely be forced migrations on a scale unknown in human history, and an enormously increased risk of conflict, including nuclear conflict.

To me, the bottom line seems clear. Without nuclear weapons modern civilization will likely somehow adapt to climate change and continue in some form. With nuclear weapons it’s anybody’s guess what will happen, and the odds aren’t in our favor.

WWII might serve as an example. That war was the largest conflict in human history creating previously unimaginable levels of death and damage all over the planet. But we got past it. We rebuilt civilization, and improved on the past. Had thousands of nuclear weapons been available to the warring parties during WWII, as they are today, such a recovery would have been very unlikely.

At The Nation, Matt Korda writes,

“…the significant attention imbalance between climate change and nuclear weapons must be urgently corrected; keeping them siloed reinforces an incomplete narrative about the nature of these existential threats.”