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It doesn’t take much to imagine the following scenario: ‘Cross my heart, I swear it’s a low-yield,’ as a Trident is launched! One wonders if the new low-yield W76-2 warhead advocated by Donald Trump comes with a broadcast tape identifying it.

Otherwise it looks exactly the same, is delivered by the same missile, and is made essentially by disabling the second stage of a Trident warhead. That restricts it to the 5 kiloton fission starter which is about a third of the Hiroshima bomb. Still, a third of the Hiroshima experience might not be looked upon lightly by the victim. The first of the new bombs has just rolled off the production line, the initial operational batch to be delivered by the end of September.

The big question is how a country being attacked is supposed to know it’s not the real thing, namely the massive hydrogen bomb of a regular Trident about to deliver a crippling blow. Under the use-it-or-lose-it MAD doctrine, the target country has minutes to decide whether or not to launch its own missiles. Who will want to wait and see the effects of the incoming Trident before responding? Worse still, if the smaller warhead makes use more likely, then the likelihood of Armageddon increases proportionately.

It could also have been designed for use in non-nuclear countries that one way or another are irksome to US power brokers. Iraq used to be on the list, now it’s Iran, and who knows but the Taliban have been persuaded by it to negotiate and agree on a framework for an Afghan deal. Although, no matter what lipstick is put on that pig, it will not obscure the fact of another lost war.

In other news, the Midwest is colder than the inside of a freezer. The polar vortex normally spinning contentedly over the North Pole has been forced down into Canada and the US Midwest. Chicago, the worst affected major City, experienced colder temperatures than the Antarctic. The indoor-outdoor temperature differential was 94F, the outdoor low at -22F or -30C.

Too much for President Trump to resist who tweeted, “In the beautiful Midwest, … coldest ever recorded … What the hell is going on with the Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

It turns out a pool of intensely hot air formed over Morocco. As it rose, wind currents pushed it to the North Pole where it cleaved the vortex forcing one half down into North America. One can of course wonder about the causes of the hot air and its intensity, but such speculation is unlikely to be of interest to anyone in denial. Lipstick on a pig does not change the fact its posterior is more valuable than its brain.

Meanwhile new research reported in Science (January 11, 2019) finds an accelerated pace of ocean warming. Using ocean heat content (OHC), which the authors claim is a more reliable measure than surface temperature, they have collected data showing a faster pace. Simulations of the future under three scenarios show an accelerated rise from bad to worse. For Trump’s business-as-usual scenario they predict a sea level rise of 30 cm. At present it’s already 7 cm higher than in the 1990s.

Will it be goodbye to Mar-a-Lago, or is that where the wall is being built?

Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.

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