On Friday morning, The New York Times promoted its article entitled, “North Korea Aside, Guam Faces Another Threat: Climate Change,” by asking its Twitter readers the question:
“What’s a greater threat to Guam? North Korea, or climate change?”
“The island of Guam made rare headlines this week when North Korea, responding to blustery language from President Trump, threatened to fire four ballistic missiles into waters near the American territory’s shores,” began the article. “Some Guam residents told reporters that they worried what might happen if North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, were actually to follow through.”
“Scientists in Guam, however, say they have at least one other major threat in mind: climate change.”
The Times article states that the small U.S. Pacific territory is under threat from changes in temperature, weather, and an increase in oceanic acidity. According to cited experts, such changes have the potential to increase the number of tropical storms in the region, raise the local temperature, and damage the island’s coral reefs.
The article also discusses different “adaptation” projects currently underway in Guam to assist the island in coping with the ever-changing climate. However, the author adds a notable caveat in its final paragraph:
“Guam’s topography is no guarantee that its climate adaptation projects would be effective over the long term, she [Dr. Keener] added. ‘Climate change adaptation: It’s a new field,’ she said, ‘and you really don’t know how well you’re preparing for things until 20 years, 30 years down the road.’”
The Times story follows yesterday's declaration by President Donald Trump to reporters in New Jersey that nuclear weapons - not climate change - constitute the greatest threat to the world.
"I would like to de-nuke the world. I know that President Obama said global warming is the biggest threat. I totally disagree," said President Trump. "I say that it's a simple one: Nuclear is our greatest threat worldwide. Not even a question, not even close."
The President referenced an instance in 2015 where President Obama claimed that there was "no greater threat" to the security of the United States than climate change.
On Twitter, many users did not appreciate the newspaper’s caption comparing climate change to the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea:
“Ignorance is the greatest threat of all... hence... the NYT is a far greater threat than either of these. U people are special,” reads the tweet’s top comment.
Another Twitter reader tweeted a gif of a mushroom cloud with the mocking caption: “But . . . but . . . what about climate change?!"
And, one commenter said, “neither, Guam tipping over is the greatest threat” - referencing comments made by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) who said in an Armed Services Committee hearing in 2010: “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”