Sure, the mushroom cloud has become a cliché image for conveying disaster. It’s an apt one in this case, though. The picture of a mushroom cloud over Hiroshima is buried deep within America’s national consciousness, and awareness of the bomb’s impacts is what ultimately led to international treaties aimed at preventing any future use of nuclear weapons. To avert another tragedy of global proportions, the world’s superpowers must now lay down their fossil fuels as well.
Climate change won’t destroy future generations as instantaneously as Little Boy incinerated the people of Hiroshima, but continuing with business as usual guarantees that millions of people will die as a result. If the Hiroshima meme “trades on human tragedy to make an illustrative point,” as one blog commenter complained, it does so with abundant moral justification.