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The World of Yesterday!

If you disregard that fact that an estimated 60 million people died during World War II the world was in pretty good shape in 1945. The planet's waters were free of giant garbage patches, radioactivity, or oil spills, and the drinking water wasn't yet adulterated by phosphates or prescription drugs. Glaciers were still glacial and the jungles were still impenetrable. We'd lost a couple of species by then, like the quagga, but elephants, tigers, and rhinos were doing just fine. There was no automotive smog, no urban sprawl, no mega-cities, no drive-by shootings, no militarized police and, in the United States, the Bill of Rights was still taken seriously.

So what happened? How did the planet get to be such a mess?

It's all Hitler's fault.

Because of him America went from being largely agrarian in 1940 to becoming an industrial juggernaut. When all those U.S. GIs came home from the war they wanted wives and kids and cars and homes full of stuff to help forget the war. Industry did its part by shifting nimbly from building tanks and planes to making refrigerators and TVs. "Longer, lower, wider", "Keeping up with the Joneses", and "planned obsolescence" became our nation's watchwords.

We built roads for all those cars, even an interstate system, which we filled with trucks carting cargo from coast to coast, belching CO2 all the way.

Commercial air travel advanced rapidly as a side-benefit of military jet-engine research and development, and now the skies hum with 100,000 pollutant-spewing flights per day.

America exported its desire for excess to the Western world, which needed so many new consumer goods that they all held their noses and let the communist Chinese build everything for them, a country now cloaked in a coal-fired ecological nightmare that kills over a half-a-million of its citizens a year.

Without Hitler there would be no Israel, and the Middle East would be a more peaceful place. There might never have been oil wars.

It's clear that the world would be a much different place had it not been for Nazi Germany, very likely a better place. But keep in mind that Hitler only came to power as a result of reparations placed on Germany after World War One, and that the Great War began only after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Who was shot with a handgun. So now let's talk about gun control and unforeseen consequences.


end rant

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Once upon a time the oceans were unpolluted and fish stocks were vigorous. The forests were lush and verdant. And ecosystems were stable. The air was fresh and clear. Nuclear war was unthinkable. The years was 1945.