Environment, Featured

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Climate Change, Terrorism, North Korea and Donald Trump?

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.

– From “Fire and Ice,” by Robert Frost

Robert Frost and John Kerry have a lot in common. Back in 2014, the then-Secretary of State called climate change the “world’s largest weapon of mass destruction,” and “the greatest challenge of our generation,” outranking other biggies like terrorism, disease, or poverty. He has since backtracked, now saying that “violent extremism” is perhaps a bigger problem.

That hasn’t stopped Pope Francis from relying on the same kind of apocalyptic mindset when it comes to climate change.

Calling climate change “catastrophic” and blaming the recent spate of hurricanes on global warming, the pontiff said, with regard to those who don’t share his predictions of world-ending climate calamities, that he was “reminded of a phrase from the Old Testament, I think from the Psalm: ‘Man is stupid, he is stubborn and he does not see.'”

That’s an interesting perspective from a religious leader, as previous popes tended to think that moral depravity was higher on the world-ending disaster scale than environmental concerns.

Pope Benedict, Francis’s predecessor, the first pope in over 500 years to retire, wrote an unprecedented post-papal memoir in which he defended his hard line against radical feminism and the “moral depravity” of homosexuality. The implication is that the world will eventually end because humanity is wicked. Climate change doesn’t merit a single mention.

President Trump has no shortage of scapegoats

If President Trump were to predict the end of the world, climate change would likely go unmentioned in that instance, too. As its stands, his impromptu sermons about the end times always involve people from out of town.

Whether it’s Mexico who are sending “rapists” to scurry across the border in the dead of night, or the entirety of Islam that need to be indefinitely banned from the country, or the “evil losers” of ISIS, or, most recently, the “fire and fury” he wants to rain down on Kim Jong-Un, the president has no shortage of scapegoats who will accompany the Four Horsemen.

And while Trump has softened on several of these stands, he has a pattern of painting the most dire scenario possible before offering himself and his unique wisdom as the solution.

Anti-Trumpers have their own doomsday prophesies

Anti-Trumpers, however, often describe Trump himself as the catalyst for the end of the world. Last month, The Daily Beast described the Trump presidency as the cause of “creeping doomsday anxiety arranging itself on the horizon like a wall cloud,” and The New Republic claims that Trump is the reason that “the whole world is coming off its hinges.”

So when the planet melts, or collapses, or explodes, whose fault will it be? Climate deniers? Terrorists? Homosexuals and feminists? Mexicans? Muslims? North Koreans? Or will Donald Trump wipe us all out all by himself?

The world is likely to survive all these would-be threats, despite the increasing hostility of the rhetoric. Whether some say the world will end in fire, in ice, or at Mar-a-Lago, the planet doesn’t seem to be listening to them.

(Image of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – death, famine, war, and conquest – an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. The lamb is visible at the top.)


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