The Greatest Challenges Of The 21st Century.

Through the rest of this century, the world is facing a number of seemingly insurmountable problems – problems for which there appear to be no easy answers. Some so complex and so threatening that they could doom humanity for all eternity. Yet, even for those challenges, there are answers if we are willing to acknowledge the problems and make the changes so urgently required.

Here they are in ascending order of difficulty:

Rise of Authoritarianism – The solution for this one is exceedingly simple: Vote! Vote only for those politicians who are committed to democracy. Fight tyranny at every turn. No politician who embraces discrimination of any kind belongs in office.

Corporate Consolidation – The phenomenon of too-big-to-fail banks and multinational corporations has led to a wide variety of problems for humanity. These include a lack of competition leading to inflation, the elimination of pension funds for workers, the growing disparity of income between CEOs and workers, the exporting of jobs in the search for ever cheaper and more compliant labor…the list is long.

Fortunately, the solution is also simple. Indeed, Congress gave us a seldom-used tool to break up these industrial cabals and growing monopolies: The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. It’s time our government used it.

Wealth Disparity – Globally, the richest 10% of the global population currently take home 52% of the income. Those in the poorest half of the global population earn just 8%.

In the U.S., the wealthiest one percent of Americans hold more than 32 percent of the nation’s wealth. The top 10 percent hold 77 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 50 percent of households hold just one percent of the wealth. And 7.5 percent of the population has a negative net worth – meaning they are in debt.

By race, white households hold more than 86 percent of the wealth while black and Latino households hold less than 3 percent of the wealth.

And, until the election of President Biden the problem has only gotten worse, a result of the vicious economic policy called Trickle-Down Theory that was embraced by Ronald Reagan and every Republican president since. The subsequent wealth gap has led to growing poverty and food insecurity, unfair tax policies, a government that is bought and paid for by wealthy individuals and corporations, and a loss of tax revenue that has led to a growing national debt.

Yet there is some glimmer of hope for those at the bottom of the wealth scale. According to the Federal Reserve, the average wealth of the bottom half of Americans has increased by 80 percent since 2019, perhaps as a result of President Biden’s policies. (Of course, wealth growth is statistically much more profound if you have very little wealth to begin with.)

The solutions to wealth disparity also seem relatively simple: Enact a wealth tax and impose strict limits on donations to political campaigns. That could give all Americans a chance at the equal representation our Founders intended.

Gun Violence – The U.S. suffers approximately 20,000 violent gun deaths each year (not including suicides) and more than 35,000 gun injuries. Thanks to the NRA, other so-called gun rights groups, and gun manufacturers, police have to assume that every person they encounter is armed. Our schools and many public buildings have become virtual fortresses in an attempt to prevent mass shootings. And, from the age of 5, children are taught to live in fear of active shooters. No other developed nation in the world experiences these problems. But our gun manufacturers are trying to change that by exporting guns to criminal gangs worldwide.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

The solution is to follow Australia’s lead by banning and collecting guns, especially semi-automatics. Instead, as exemplified by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on bump stocks, the U.S. is headed in the opposite direction.

Climate Crisis – The U.S. has long led the world in the amount of fossil fuels burned per capita. And now we are the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. For more than 50 years, scientists have been warning us that, by incinerating fossil fuels, we are in danger of incinerating our planet. Unwilling to believe them, we have protected our fossil fuel industry and refused to modify our unsustainable lifestyle.

Sure, we have made some limited progress by recycling, better insulating our homes, producing more energy efficient appliances, and expanding the use of renewable fuels. But those measures are far too little, too late.

We led the world in establishing an extravagant, disposable culture. Now we need to lead the world to live within our planet’s means. Change is possible. But we must hurry. As you can see by the ever-increasing, ever more violent storms and other climate-related disasters, time is running out, and quickly.

Mass Migration – In recent years, migrants have flooded the borders of the United States and other highly developed nations. As a result of wars, violent gangs, autocratic rulers, and natural disasters such as drought, storms, and flooding, millions of people are faced with the choice of either migrating or dying.

Think immigrants are ruining your country? Then demand that our politicians do something to improve circumstances in their home countries. And be willing to open your hearts as well as your pocketbooks to help.

Mass Extinctions – In Earth’s history, there have been 5 mass extinctions defined as the loss of 75 percent of all species within a relatively short period of time. Scientists tell us that we are about to experience a sixth mass extinction as the result of human activities such as deforestation, unsustainable food production, pollution, encroachment of habitat, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Currently, extinction of species is occurring 1,000 to 10,000 times more rapidly than the natural rate. Why should we care?

First, we are living in an ecosystem. The life of one species depends on the life of others. Second, the world will become a much less interesting and livable place without some of the most vulnerable species. And third, we’re one of the species that could go extinct!

You already know the ways to mitigate the sixth mass extinction: Stop wasting resources, limit the use of fossil fuels, limit travel, stop polluting, and quickly transition to a mostly plant-based diet.

We have been the problem. Now we must become the solution.

Artificial Intelligence – AI could be the answer to many of our problems. Or, it could add to them. It simply depends on how we use it.

Used properly, AI can help us eradicate diseases, streamline research, create solutions for complex problems, perform the most dangerous and boring jobs, and help us to objectively solve conflicts.

AI-driven vehicles could make our roads safer and more orderly. AI could make logistics more efficient and more predictable. The possibilities are endless.

But there’s a much darker side to AI.

AI is already creating deepfakes – fake videos and images of people saying and doing things they never intended or even imagined. Women have been victimized by fake images of them nude or engaging in sex acts. Even worse, deepfakes of political candidates and leaders could have profound consequences.

AI could eliminate millions of jobs making humans essentially obsolete.

Not surprisingly, AI has been embraced by the military to replace humans in battle. Future armies, navies and air forces could be dominated by AI-controlled robots making real-time decisions of life and death. Once that happens, will we become the predominate targets?

One AI researcher believes so. He estimates there’s a 99.9% chance that AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) will lead to human extinction within the next 100 years claiming that no AGI model he has seen has been safe. And though other AI researchers are less certain that AGI will lead to our extinction, they are not particularly reassuring.

A Final Word: As daunting as some of these challenges seem, to some degree, they all can be addressed with one simple action: Vote! We must climb out of our media silos, ignore the misinformation and disinformation peddled by the moneyed interests, educate ourselves, and vote for the politicians who are willing to acknowledge the scope of the challenges and attack them in earnest.

Who’s Next On The MAGA Hit List?

Following World War II and the Holocaust, a German Lutheran pastor named Martin Niemöller wrote, “First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

As Donald J. Trump and his MAGA supporters continue to expand their enemies list, that sentiment is a clear warning for today given the number of organizations and people Trump and his MAGA supporters have targeted for retribution should he return to the White House. And it’s expanding daily.

  • Barack Obama who Trump claims is not a natural born citizen and, therefore, unqualified to hold the office of President.
  • Immigrants who became the primary targets on the day Trump first announced that he was running for office. Of course, he later separated immigrant children from their parents as a cruel form of deterrent. (If re-elected he plans to detain more than 12 million immigrants, including Dreamers, and confine them to internment camps before deporting them.)
  • Mexico, which he blames for the immigration problem and the fentanyl crisis. (He has claimed that he will bomb Mexican drug labs and invade Mexico if re-elected.)
  • Hillary Clinton for whom he repeatedly led chants to “Lock her up!”
  • Women for whom he would deny reproductive health care, including contraception. (It appears he considers them worthy of his attention only if they meet his beauty standards and he can grab them between the legs and have sex with them whenever he wants.)
  • Wind turbine manufacturers and operators because he claims wind turbines kill birds and cause cancer. (His hatred of them is more likely the result of Scotland installing wind turbines off the coast of one of his beloved golf courses.)
  • Any media that are not members of the MAGA propaganda network, most especially CNN, NBC, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
  • Truth. Trump has proven to be one of the most prolific liars in history. Indeed, the media and various factcheckers documented more than 3,000 lies he told during just his four years in office.
  • Gold Star families, POWs, as well as dead and wounded soldiers, who he labeled “suckers and losers.”
  • The Lincoln Project and other “disloyal” Republicans who refuse to support Trump.
  • The Libs, the Elites and the Woke. In other words, any progressive, caring person who disagrees with his cruel, discriminatory and corrupt politics.
  • Non-Christians as determined by his Christian Nationalist base and the delusional Christian evangelicals who see him as “chosen by God.”
  • The LGBTQ community, particularly transgender individuals who Trump and his supporters see as aberrant and an afront to God.
  • NATO and our longtime allies who Trump believes cheat the U.S. and stand in the way of Putin’s Russia.
  • Black Lives Matter and Antifa (antifascists) who dared to demonstrate against racism, police brutality and Trump’s armed bullies (the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers).
  • Ukraine, which he tried to strong-arm into opening a phony investigation into his political opponent – Joe Biden – before the 2020 election.
  • Scientists who continue to raise alarms over the climate crisis and those who encouraged vaccinations, social distancing, and shutdowns during the Covid19 pandemic, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • The United States Postal Service that delivered the mail-in ballots for Biden.
  • Election officials, both Democrat and Republican, who ensured the rights of all citizens to have their votes accurately counted, especially in the states Biden won.
  • Former officials and aides, such as John Kelly, Gen. James Mattis, Gen. Mark Milley, Gen. H. R. McMaster, Sarah Matthews, Stephanie Grisham, and Cassidy Hutchinson who acted as guardrails during his administration and/or revealed the true depths of his depravity.
  • Former V.P Mike Pence, who refused to go along with Trump’s attempted coup on January 6, 2021.
  • President Biden for daring to deny Trump a second term by winning the 2020 election.
  • Anyone connected with the House January 6 Select Committee, especially Nancy Pelosi and the two Republican members: Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Trump would also pardon all of the criminals (in his words “Patriotic Warriors”) who have been convicted of brutalizing police and defacing the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to keep Trump in power.
  • The entire justice system that has dared to try to hold Trump accountable for his many crimes. Those targeted for special retribution are special prosecutor Jack Smith, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York District Attorney Al Bragg who led the hush money investigation, Georgia DA Fani Willis who led the investigation of Trump’s election conspiracy, as well as the Attorneys General in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin for seeking justice against fake electors.
  • Judges, jurors, witnesses and complainants in the legal cases against Trump, especially Judge Kaplan, Judge Merchan, Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and E. Jean Carroll.
  • Many authors and their books. MAGA groups such as Mom’s for Liberty and Trump’s Christian Nationalist supporters continue to ban books on any and all subjects they find distasteful, such as any reference to sex (excluding, of course, the Bible), slavery, Jim Crow, and the history of indigenous Americans.
  • The U.S. Constitution. Trump has announced a second term would be “post-constitutional.” He seems especially frustrated by freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th, and 22nd Amendments. Moreover, he and his MAGA supporters would like to end direct elections of the President and the Senate by placing the outcomes in the hands of state legislatures. That would almost certainly ensure Republican control for generations.
  • The Federal government as we know it. As part of Project 2025, Trump would fire up to 50,000 federal workers and replace them with MAGA loyalists. He would eliminate the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education. He would slash funding for the Department of Justice and basically dismantle the FBI along with the Department of Homeland Security placing them largely under his control. He would also end the independence of other federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Public schools. In addition to eliminating the Department of Education, Trump would institute universal school “choice” which would redirect taxpayer funds to private and religious schools.
  • Democracy. Trump has long expressed his admiration for dictators, strongmen and thugs. He and his MAGA followers have little interest in free and fair elections. They want to decide who can vote and who wins. Their only real interest is gaining power and keeping it, democracy be damned.

As you can see, Trump’s enemies list is long. And, if you’re not on it, he and his supporters will likely be coming for you soon.

What Is The Truth Worth?

Although Fox was forced to pay $787.5 million for its repeated lies about Dominion voting machines, and its depositions revealed the depth of the network’s depravity, it appears the only lesson it learned is to avoid using the names of corporations and individuals within the content of its lies. Sure, the network’s lawyers made a statement acknowledging that it told “some” lies about Dominion. But, in the next breath, they referred to the network’s commitment to “journalistic excellence.”

Journalistic excellence? Riiight!

It’s clear that $787.5 million lesson will have absolutely no effect on the network’s longstanding estrangement with truth. Fox will never reveal the depth of its lies to its viewers who will remain blissfully ignorant in their silo of misinformation. And even though it’s facing a $2.7 billion lawsuit based on its lies about Smartmatic, another maker of voting systems, Fox pundits and hosts will undoubtedly double down on their lying ways.

Even after the dismissal of the network’s most prolific and most anti-American liar, Tucker Carlson, the network is highly unlikely to suddenly resort to actual journalism and truth.

It simply can’t afford to.

After years of railing against our government, Democrats, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, gun safety, history, education, and science, Fox has created an audience that thrives on absurd lies, hate, and anger. That audience of faux patriots absolutely cannot tolerate being told the truth, especially if it means revealing the depravity of Trump and his legion of fascist followers. If the network doesn’t continue its lying ways, its audience will almost certainly abandon it for OAN or Newsmax.

So, Fox will find another entertaining liar to replace Tucker Carlson as it did following the firings of Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. It will continue to pander to the most extreme amongst us. It will help perpetuate QAnon myths. It will continue to deny the severity of the climate crisis. It will continue to create scapegoats for our problems and redirect blame from the greedy to the most marginalized portions of our population. It will spawn even more gun deaths.

And, when it is sued again, as it almost certainly will be, it will simply tap into its massive bank account to pay for any consequences. That is now part of the Fox business model – just the cost of doing business.

Never mind that the network is almost singlehandedly responsible for the ongoing threat to our democracy. To Fox, ratings and profits are far more important.

It’s Time To Start Using The F Word.

Like many people, I’ve been hesitant to use the F word in public for fear of offending others’ sensibilities. It is, after all, the one word that can end any political debate or polite conversation. Yet I believe our nation has reached a point where it is the only word left to accurately describe a political party.

I’m not referring to the F word that ends with a k.

After watching the GOP’s followers attempting to violently overturn the results of a fair and free election, after listening to them spewing racism and hate, after seeing them place targets on the backs of LBTQ people who only want to love who they want and to live as they want, after seeing them interfere with a woman’s access to health care, after watching them strip away virtually all regulations of guns, and after watching their hate result in the recent spate of shootings, I believe the party now richly deserves to be labeled with another F word.

I’m referring, of course, to the term fascist.

You may remember that I recently compared the United States of America that Republicans have created to pre-World War II Germany. But I was wrong.

This America may be even worse!

As long ago as the 1970s, those who operate under the banner of the Republican Party determined that the only way to win a free and fair election was to divide us, to pit elements of our society against one another – white against black and brown, conservatives against liberals, Christians against Jews, Christians against Muslims, the religious against atheists and agnostics, gun owners against those who demand gun safety, anti-abortionists against those who believe in a woman’s choice, heterosexuals against homosexuals, heterosexuals against transexuals, etc., etc., etc.

Failing to offer any solutions for our nation’s problems, they intended, instead, to create scapegoats. Along the way, the fascists and their propaganda networks have peddled dishonest narratives of an oppressive government, runaway spending, out of control crime, an invasion of immigrants, and a breakdown of Christian principles to motivate their base.

They have labeled Democrats as pedophiles, non-Christians as terrorists, food stamp recipients as welfare queens, civil servants as the deep state, doctors as baby killers, journalists as enemies of the people, the compassionate as woke, teachers as groomers, and election results as fake.

They whined about so-called activist judges, praying for Supreme Court justices to die so they could seat their own ideologues. They then encouraged them to change long-standing and popular laws by judicial fiat. Having given up on trying to persuade voters, they resorted to voter suppression, gerrymandering, threats, and intimidation.

They disregard education, science, history, and expertise. In their place, they have embraced “alternative facts”, outrageous myths, and wild conspiracy theories.

They seek power, not to govern and improve lives. But to dictate their own narrow-minded beliefs. They disdain compromise and policy debates. Indeed, their only discernable policy is cruelty. They see tolerance, understanding, and compassion as weakness. They ban books and fire teachers who contradict their ignorance and hateful beliefs. They turn government meetings into carnival freak shows. They show up at state houses and election sites with guns to intimidate and threaten, using the First and Second Amendments as weapons.

They have chosen as their leader a man who panders to their ignorance and cruelty. A sociopathic bully who makes up for his lack of knowledge by creating his own “truth.” A conman who has fashioned his leadership style after mob bosses, encouraging lawlessness and giving orders by suggestion and implication – a technique that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hold him to account. When he lost re-election, he claimed victory, his followers believing his obvious lies. In the aftermath of his defeat, they stormed the Capitol as part of a failed coup to overturn the election. And rather than accept the truth, they forced election officials, even those who are longtime members of their own party, to resign under an avalanche of death threats.

The difference between these fascists and those who once ruled Germany is almost indistinguishable. They have a leader whose thirst for power and adoration is insatiable. He has a proven ability to sell his racist and hateful dream to the masses. He has created a climate of anger and fear of “the other” – races of people he claims are keeping the nation from becoming great again. And though he has no uniformed mob of brown shirts, he has no need for them. Instead, he has a mob of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and millions of heavily armed believers who are impatiently waiting for the opportunity to act.

Will there be a Kristallnacht? A burning of the Reichstag? Some other crisis created to justify a violent takeover? The danger to our democracy and the world is far from over. What happens between now and November 12, 2024, will determine our fate.

The One Unifying Policy Of The Political Right.

Hate. Hatred of homosexuals. Hatred of transsexuals. Hatred of women. Hatred of immigrants. Hatred of people of color. Hatred of “urban elites.” Hatred of socialism. Hatred of Black Lives Matter. Hatred of anti-fascists. Hatred of non-Christians. Hatred of election officials and other public servants. Hatred of educators. Hatred of environmentalists. Hatred of science. Hatred of progress. Hatred of history. And, most of all, hatred of the libs.

Though these haters are greatly outnumbered in the US, they now control the US House of representatives, 23 state houses, 26 governorships, dozens of courts including the Supreme Court of the United States, and of course, the Republican Party.

These people not only led or supported a violent coup. They are now calling for a national “divorce.” They cling to power through a combination of fearmongering, gerrymandering, voter suppression, political dirty tricks, and a massive propaganda effort.

Undeterred by mass murder and slaughter on our streets, in our schools, in our stores and in our theaters, they justify gun violence through a fraudulent interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Rather than support democracy, they support the world’s most despicable autocrats and war criminals. They have sided with Russian oligarchs in order to fill their campaign coffers. And all the while they claim moral superiority through their affiliation with Christian evangelicals (aka Christian nationalists).

Their legislative efforts seem to consist almost entirely of fraudulent investigations and attempts to legalize discrimination. Other bills are designed to rig the economy on behalf of billionaires and multinational corporations, to ban books, to rewrite history, to hollow out or dismantle federal agencies, to end Social Security, Medicare and other safety nets, and to undermine democratic institutions.

It’s not hyperbole to say that political right has pushed democracy to the precipice. Indeed, I believe we are now at a pre-WW II Germany moment. If you value democracy, if you value freedom, if you value others, if you value our planet’s ecosystem, you must speak up and get involved. You must get organized. You must stand up for our Constitution. The elections of 2024 could be a watershed moment.

We simply can’t allow the haters to win. Democrats, independents, and the few remaining traditional Republicans must repudiate them so thoroughly with our votes that they crawl back into their dark closets with their guns and never threaten our nation again.

We Cannot Live Alone.

Our lives are made possible by a delicate ecosystem. We rely on our forests and plants to create oxygen. We rely on bees and other creatures to pollinate the plants that produce our food. We rely on coral reefs to sustain our fish. On birds and bats to control insects. On wolves and other predators to control rodents. On glaciers to provide much of the water we drink.

We like to think of ourselves as stewards of the planet’s ecosystem. But instead, we are its greatest threat.

There are now more than 8 billion humans on planet Earth, all of which demand water, food, housing, and energy. More and more, they also demand a life of convenience, travel and recreation. One in which the niceties require resources. But after a single use, many of the products we use become disposable. As a result, we are rapidly destroying our oceans, our rainforests, and the air we breathe.

Obviously, this places our entire population at risk.

Scientists tell us that our lifestyle and our reliance on fossil fuels are heating the atmosphere. That they’re melting our glaciers at an astonishing rate. That they’re causing extreme wildfires and increasingly damaging storms. And that they will result in the extinction of more than a million species in the coming decades. The very species on which we rely to sustain life.

Yet our politicians, corporations, some religions, and many of our neighbors are in denial of the obvious dangers. They have placed political power over science. Short-term profits over the future. Ignorance and fantasy over reality.

This simply cannot continue. Scientists and activists have created a Climate Clock to show us the time to act is quickly running out. We can prevent the coming catastrophe if we treat climate change as the crisis it is. But once the ecosystem has been destroyed, we will not be able to fix it. And, contrary to the beliefs of some, we are unlikely to find planet B. Even if we could, we would not be able to transport more than a tiny fraction of our population to it. Moreover, we’d quickly destroy that planet, too. Better that we take care of the one we have.

Fox News Has Gone Full Goebbels.

During a recent Laura Ingraham show in which she questioned Mike Pompeo about his interview with the Jan 6 committee, a headline appeared at the bottom of the screen reading “Dems prop up phony democracies abroad, shred ours.” In other words, the radical conservatives are angry that we are supporting Ukraine and investigating the January 6th insurrection.

And the Ingraham show is not even the worst thing on Fox. Tucker Carlson, the multi-millionaire heir to the Swanson Foods fortune, takes partisanship to a new level in his show by blatantly promoting autocrats and white supremacists, by excusing Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and by fawning over our deposed president and crime boss, Donald J. Trump.

Despite Fox calling its content “news”, it has long been little more than a propaganda network for Republicans and Libertarians. Its schedule is packed full of hate, fearmongering, and falsehoods. So much so that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish it from the pre-World War II work of Joseph Goebbels. (Goebbels, of course, was famously known as the chief propagandist who helped Adolf Hitler rise to power.) In fact, it could seriously be argued that many of the Fox hosts, Newsmax, and other MAGA propagandists are more extreme.

This pattern of radical anti-Democratic (and anti-democratic) rhetoric has been going on since the end of the Fairness Doctrine in the late eighties. A number of TV, radio and podcast hosts (Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Mark Levin, et al) are deeply involved in Trump’s seditious conspiracy. And their rhetoric is getting worse.

It is abundantly clear that such propaganda is the primary reason for our nation’s divisions. As Trump and his MAGA followers have labeled the legitimate press as “enemies of the people” for reporting the truth, Fox and the other propaganda outlets have promised to tell you the real story. And what a story it is – full of partisan distortions and lies which blame immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for many of our nation’s problems.

They portray immigrants as criminals and “illegals.” They raise fears that same-sex marriage will somehow undermine the marriages of heterosexuals. They portray people of color as “lazy thugs” who have destroyed the rule of law in our cities. Like Trump, they describe our nation as a democracy in decay with carnage in our streets.

Yet, in truth, it is the Trump supporters – the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, white supremacists, and violent militias – who have taken to the streets with guns and body armor. It is these MAGAts who tried to bully governors, legislators, and judges from instituting policies to mitigate the pandemic. It is the MAGATs who invaded our Capitol to threaten Congress with the apparent intent to murder individuals and overthrow an election. And it is their NRA’s greed that has made Americans feel unsafe in theaters, in shopping centers, in churches, at concerts, even at schools.

There are other striking similarities between the Republican MAGAts and Nazis. They both intended to seize power based on bullying and armed insurrection. And they both aimed their hatred at minorities.

And even though the insurrection of January 6th was stopped, the Republican Party’s attempts to destroy our democracy continue. The propagandists are unbowed, and their falsehoods are unabated. Moreover, recognizing that knowledge is a threat and a counter to propaganda, the GOP continues its attacks on education and the educated. For decades, the GOP has dismissed and ridiculed expertise. It has dismissed economists who proclaimed trickle-down economics an abject failure. It has ignored the negative impact of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. And it has ridiculed the vast majority of the world’s scientists who warned about the devastating impacts of climate change.

Republicans have undermined public schools by slashing their budgets and channeling tax dollars into private schools through vouchers. They have threatened teachers for schooling their students in our nation’s history of slavery and the genocide of natives. They have sought to marginalize LGBTQ students. And their push for private schools allows conservatives to prioritize Christianity in classrooms over science.

Republicans have also exposed the flaws of mainstream television networks. By trying to appear nonpartisan, the networks too often offer airtime to Republicans intent on spreading falsehoods and hatred. Moreover, by presenting news in soundbites without context, the networks offer a distorted and incomplete version of the truth which makes it more difficult to counter the Republican narrative.

Of course, social media plays a part in the conservatives’ attack on democracy by creating information (more accurately, disinformation) silos where many people go for their news. It is in those silos, hidden from the public eye, where extremists, seditionists, and insurrectionists can go to reinforce their twisted ideas and plot their attacks on civil society. And despite the claims of those who profit from social media, little has been done to enforce decorum on their sites and to block disinformation.

Unfortunately, there is little government can do to counter all of this. Certainly, it can prosecute crimes as they happen. And we can vote out those who would destroy public education. But given our constitutional rights to free speech and a free press, we can’t stop the propaganda. We can only make a real effort to inform ourselves and seek the truth. Let’s hope that’s enough.

Climate Change: The Future May Be Far Worse Than You Think.

Today, Americans are facing a number of very real threats to our way of life. We are understandably transfixed by the very real threat to our democracy posed by Trump and his followers, by the theocrats who have taken hold of the court we once believed Supreme, by the still-ongoing pandemic, by the corporate price-gouging which has led to global inflation. But the greatest threat of all seems to have fallen off our radar: Climate change, the human-caused crisis that threatens to destroy our planet.

Having been homebound for much of the pandemic, most Americans have returned to their self-serving, planet-destroying ways.

They are taking long-delayed road trips, climbing aboard aircraft, and fueling-up their many motorized toys all the while bitching about the worldwide rise in gas prices. For many, the changing climate is an issue only future generations will face. For others, it’s little more than an inconvenience that has closed national parks due to flooding or forced them to detour around out-of-control wildfires.

Recent studies have found that only 35 percent of Americans believe they will be directly affected by climate change. And nearly half believe the threat is exaggerated despite warnings that, without an immediate and comprehensive change to our lifestyle, the destruction of our planet as we know it is all but assured.

According to a consensus of the world’s leading scientists, the current increase in devastating wildfires, extreme droughts, hurricanes, tornados, straight-line winds, and large hail are but a mere prelude of what’s to come.

They tell us that, if the climate crisis is not immediately addressed, we will see further thawing of the permafrost which will quickly accelerate the heating of our planet. That will, in turn, lead to a dramatic rise in sea levels making many of the world’s largest cities uninhabitable. Combined with drought-caused crop failures and famine, that will lead to mass migrations. And that’s just the predicted impact on the portion of our planet that is covered by dry land. The rise in global temperatures is having an even greater impact on the oceans that cover more than 70 percent of our planet’s surface. As the oceans warm, coral reefs are bleaching and dying – reefs that support the main source of food for 3.5 billion of the world’s population!

Still not worried? Then maybe you should consider that a United Nations’ review by about 15,000 scientific and government sources from 50 countries warns that, without fundamental change, up to one million species are at risk of becoming extinct within a few decades. Given that our planet is governed by an ecosystem with each species relying on others for sustenance, inevitably that means our own species is vulnerable to extinction.

But don’t take my word for it. Or even that of scientists. Here are the actual numbers:

Change In CO2 Levels
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human activities have increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by about 50 percent. From 1750 to 2010, CO2 levels increased from 280 to 388.44 parts per million. By the end of 2015, CO2 levels were 402.44 parts per million. (400 ppm had long been considered the tipping point and, until the late 1940s, it had never exceeded 300 ppm for more than 650,000 years.) At the end of 2019, CO2 levels were 412.71 ppm. At the end of 2021, CO2 levels were 417.44 ppm. As of June 2022, the current level of CO2 stands at 421.94 ppm and rising.

Change In Temperatures
Recent global temperatures are the hottest in more than 2,000 years. 2015 was the first year that global temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the temperatures at start of the Industrial Revolution. Since 1910, the average global temperature has risen 1.28 degrees Celsius.

Change In Ice Sheets
Antarctic ice sheets have melted at the rate of 152 billion metric tons per year since 2002. And the Greenland ice sheets are disappearing even more rapidly, having lost 274 billion metric tons per year since 2002. Additionally, Arctic sea ice is declining at the rate of 13 percent per decade.

Changes In Oceans
From 1900 to 2019 sea levels have risen more than 200 mm (7.87 inches) – 3.97 inches just since 1993. In addition, ocean temperatures have climbed dramatically since record-keeping began in 1955. 2021 was the oceans’ warmest recorded year and saw the highest global sea level.

“What can I do?” you may ask. “I’m only one person. Why do I have to change my lifestyle? What about the people of China? What about India?” The answer to those questions is simple. Change has to start somewhere, and it needs to start now! It’s a global crisis. We all share this planet. Each of us can make an impact, no matter how large or small. And since Americans have done more than our share to cause the problem, we should do more than our share to help solve it.

To learn more, visit NASA’s Climate Change website. Or, to follow the destruction of our planet in real time, check out the Climate Clock.

Low Gas Prices? Or The Planet? Which Will You Choose?

Fires raging in the West, excessive heat in many parts of the world, crop failures, flooding in Yellowstone, disappearing glaciers, severe storms in the Midwest, and the predicted surge of hurricanes are all indicators that we have waited far too long to address climate change. But most Americans seem willing to ignore all of that and focus, instead, on rising gas prices.

If we had taken climate change seriously when scientists first identified its cause decades ago, we wouldn’t be facing this oil-fueled economic crisis. We wouldn’t be at the mercy of the Russians and the Saudis or any of the world’s other oilygarchs. We wouldn’t be held hostage by the world’s five largest oil companies and their greedy CEOs.

We would be using renewable fuels, instead.

Nevertheless, here we are at a crossroads. Do we offer more subsidies and power to oil producers in hopes they’ll lower gas prices knowing that we’ll likely face the same problem another year or two down the road? Or, if it’s not already too late, do we finally do what we eventually must and invest in renewables that will help us avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change?

If we choose the latter, we may still avoid the flooding of all of the world’s populous coastal cities. We may yet avoid the displacement of hundreds of millions. We may avoid seeing millions dying from food shortages. We may avoid the predicted extinction of more than a million of our planet’s species. We may yet save ourselves, our children, and future generations from greater hardships and possible extinction.

Am I optimistic that we will choose the right path? No.

Unfortunately, the GOP (Does that stand for Greedy Old Plutocrats or Guns Over People?) is uniformly opposed to any measures that would come between oil companies and their billions in profits. So, too, is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. As a result, Congress already squandered one opportunity to address the problem through Biden’s Build Back Better plan. And we’re unlikely to have another opportunity in the near future.

What makes this situation all the more frustrating is that the many billions of dollars in oil companies’ windfall profits could help pay for the changes needed to address the climate crisis. Combine that money with the trillions that will be spent on repairing the damage caused by increasingly intense storms, fires, and flooding, and we would have enough money to ensure the future of our species and the planet.

So, which path will you choose? This coming November will you vote for candidates who are serious about addressing the climate crisis? Or will you gamble on candidates who falsely claim they can lower gas prices and hope your family can survive on an increasingly dangerous and unlivable planet?

The “Both Sides Are At Fault” Myth.

Faced with the political climate in our country, it’s popular for media and individuals to blame both Republicans and Democrats alike. As the story goes, the division is driven by the extreme wings of both parties.

Really?

Consider this: One party promotes policies. The other promotes hatred and fear. One party wants more people to exercise their right to vote. The other wants to make voting more difficult. One party embraces diversity. The other wants to suppress it. One party wants to pass laws to end gun violence. The other wants to pass laws to sell more guns. One party wants to end discrimination. The other promotes it. One party focuses on policies to make lives easier. The other focuses on conspiracy theories. One party wants equal justice. The other wants authoritarianism.

One party looks out for the poor. The other looks out for the wealthy. One party wants to increase wages for working families. The other wants to increase corporate returns. One party wants to make products and workplaces safer. The other wants to end regulations. One party wants to eliminate corruption. The other party excuses it. One party believes in science. The other party denies it. One party believes its opponents are wrong on policy. The other party believes its opponents are socialist, communist, and/or cannibalistic pedophiles. One party believes in democracy. The other does not.

When Democrats lost a presidential election, they believed was stolen, they accepted the Court’s ruling for the good of the country. When Republicans lost a presidential election they believed was stolen, they descended on our capitol in open and violent insurrection.

While the Democratic Party has steadfastly remained the party of equality and social justice. The “Party of Lincoln” has become the party of hate.

Republicans have excused and encouraged violence by armed militias, white supremacists, and other hate groups. At the urging of Republicans, OAN, Fox News, NewsMax, and talk radio have become open sewers of misinformation, disinformation, and hateful rhetoric. Based on Republican promises to end abortion, evangelical Christian churches have abandoned the teachings of their namesake to push cruel and discriminatory policies. Under Republican leadership, the US Congress packed the courts, corrupted the Census, and perpetuated thousands of lies.

So, spare me the bs that both parties are at fault. The Democrat and Republican parties are not the same. Not even close.