President Biden gave Manhattan donors an update on his thoughts about nuclear war Tuesday, saying that he currently views global warming as a greater threat — less than four months after he casually told a different set of New York City donors that the world was close to nuclear “Armageddon.”
“[Global warming] is the single most existential threat to humanity we have ever faced, including nuclear weapons,” Biden told a small group of supporters on the Upper East Side after headlining a rail infrastructure event nearby.
It’s unclear if the 80-year-old commander-in-chief elaborated on his reasoning. Reporters were only allowed to see part of Biden’s remarks, and video of the private event was not immediately available.
There are enough nuclear weapons to directly kill most of the world’s population. Experts say a large-scale nuclear war would blanket the globe in dangerous radiation and cause a nuclear winter with decreased sunlight and lower temperatures that would finish off most survivors.
Some scientists say global warming is linked to more severe weather events such as hurricanes, but there are no near-term projections that the world will become totally uninhabitable.
The United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says sea levels could rise 50 centimeters by 2100 as a result of global warming, submerging some coastal areas including small island chains, while forcing expensive mitigation elsewhere.
Biden previously opined on nuclear threats at an Oct. 6 New York City fundraiser, shocking listeners by saying that nuclear “Armageddon” may be nigh due to NATO’s intervention against Russian forces in Ukraine.
“First time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have the threat of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going,” Biden said as he raised money for Senate Democrats.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Biden said at the time. “We’ve got a guy I know fairly well, [Russian President Vladimir Putin]. He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”
Russia and the US own about 90% of the world’s roughly 12,700 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United Kingdom have smaller arsenals and Iran is suspected of working toward developing its own weapons.
Despite warning of dire threats from global warming, Biden regularly takes fuel-guzzling helicopters to spend the weekend at his Delaware homes, where he’s passed nearly a quarter of his presidency. Some of his predecessors, such as former President Barack Obama, would stay at the White House on weekends, sparing the expense — and emissions — of multiple motorcades and flights.
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