“Climate change is an existential threat to humanity!”
No matter how many times I read that line, it fails to speak to me. For one thing, the idea it encapsulates is just too big; it’s too short a sentence to properly describe what’s about to happen. Oceans will rise, wildfires will spread, flash floods and mudslides and hurricane seasons more severe than ever before — that’s all intelligible. But adding them together and saying that “Humanity is doomed unless we do something!” just doesn’t mean anything to me. The scope is far too broad and ill-defined for the imagination to easily grasp.
Mountains rise and crumble, get washed away and turned into silt, and eventually end up shoving a new set of moving islands out into the ocean. Deserts and ice caps grow and sink. Ten thousand years ago, all this used to be ice, ninety years ago it was a dust bowl, and a hundred fifty years ago there were blizzards in June and no crops grew. Tomorrow, Manhattan will sink into the sea, and if we’re really lucky, so will Washington, D.C. God only knows what things will look like in twenty years, much less a hundred or a thousand.
The wildfires in California are horrific, and that’s just the beginning: at this writing, there are nearly 100 major wildfires in the West, half along the coast. There’s a series of major disasters underway, and the best we can do at this point is contain the damage.
What makes it worse is, we can be pretty sure it’ll happen again — and again, and again.
The natural next step to this reasoning has dawned on some of you — the ones who are still reading, who haven’t moved on in horror and self-loathing, or alternately who aren’t so pissed off at me they’ve dropped their subscription (or would have done if only they’d not been too cheap to pay for one in the first place).
What I’m talking about isn’t a matter of fighting COVID-19 so much as it is sweeping cultural change of a sort that’s not merely necessary but long overdue. The fact that we’re in a crisis right now only makes it more obvious that our society is seriously broken; it’s not like it wasn’t broken before the virus came along.
One could write volumes about Donald Trump the celebrity, the business mogul, the particularly slimy real estate developer, and so on. I’m giving that a miss. As a public person I find him odious and in business I’d resort to extreme measures to avoid him (I haven’t ruled out self-defenestration). Beyond saying that, it’s entirely immaterial for our purposes. Our subject is Donald Trump as president: the pros and cons of his tenure, his chance at escaping unscathed from impeachment to run again, and his likelihood of winning in 2020 based on the issues. That should be enough for one article.
(What: You didn’t honestly think I would give him a pass just because he’s the Evil One, did you?) (more…)
I’ve been wanting to post my personal Flat Earth theory for quite some time now, but I’ve been holding back because I don’t want to court mindless censure. Then I realized: Politically, I’m a moderate who believes in reasonable discussion and compromise, and I fight for those beliefs. So why not this one too?
This is a theory, by the way; it’s not an article of quasi-religious dogma for me. Facts won’t offend me; incivility will. (more…)
A certain fluffy-headed optimist posed the following question:
“What tiny change could the whole world make right now to make a huge impact on the rate of climate change in the next decade?”
I’m sure it was aimed at provoking answers like “walk to work” or “plant a tree”, maybe “use less plastic” or just “consume less”. Which would all be good things; I won’t argue that; we should do them all, absolutely. But this sort of question obscures the true (more…)
I’m not a climatologist. Neither is anyone that’s warned me about the evils of climate change lately. Like everything else these days, at best we get our information from the news — in other words, a 24-hour 7-day nonstop entertainment program designed to sell advertising and drown out the competition. At worst, we get our news from Facebook memes, Trump’s or AOC’s latest Tweet, or internet rumormongers.
So it’s not surprising that the American public is, for the most part, sadly misinformed (more…)