Given the news, it's hard not to think about the current political turmoil. But the fact is, political turmoil has been with us for our entire history, so what's going on today is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing particularly threatening. Things were much more fractious in the mid-1800s, in the 1930s, even in the 1960s.
So why do we think we're so divided when we all (or most of us) get along just fine with our neighbors, and local politics is generally boring and run-of-the mill? If you watch the TV news, you are bombarded with controversy, because controversy is what drives ratings. The news loves controversy, encourages controversy, and will manufacture controversy if it doesn't already exist. But most of what's in the news is not important -- political maneuvering, celebrity posturing, sports competitions. The news -- and those who influence the news -- know that if you want to get attention, you start an argument.
|How can you argue with that?|
We've just suffered two major hurricanes. Now we all know there is no direct link between global warming and any particular storm. But come on. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots.
My house is 300 feet above sea level, so I won't be directly affected by the rising waters caused by global warming. But the heat waves, crop failures, wildfires and increasingly violent storms might kill my children or grandchildren.
If you're not sufficiently scared about the problem take a look at The Uninhabitable Earth, which paints a horrifying picture of what is already happening. The piece also confronts some frightening issues of the future, including the possibility that deadly bugs and bacteria trapped in the Arctic ice will be unleashed on humankind as the ice slowly melts.
This view might be an exaggeration . . . I hope it is! But as I say to climate-change deniers: If the global warmists are wrong, the costs are minimal. All we lose are a few coal mines, and we get cleaner air in the process. But if you deniers are wrong . . . our grandchildren will drown, burn, starve and suffocate to death.
Don't you think that the news -- and our politicians -- should be more concerned about global warming than they are about who's insulted by Donald Trump's latest tweet, who's riding on the presidential plane . . . or who is coming or going on DWTS?
The other existential danger that we face has been in the news lately, but the issue now seems to be treated more like business-as-usual. Another incident occurred just yesterday. North Korea. Its leadership is flexing its nuclear muscles, testing atomic bombs, launching missiles over Japan.
But North Korea is not the only nuclear threat. Remember the arguments over a potentially nuclear Iran? President Obama negotiated a treaty. We can only hope that the Iranians are honoring their part of the agreement, and that President Trump will hold up our end of the bargain.
There's also Pakistan, another nuclear power. Pakistan is not exactly the most stable country in the world. Then there's the possibility that Islamists or some other rogue group will get their hands on a nuclear weapon and set it off in a major city. Maybe even before global warming will kill us, we will be exterminated in a nuclear holocaust. Of course, we've been living with threat this our whole lives. But just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't happen.
These are two big issues that we can't afford to ignore. I'll bring you the biggest, the deadliest, next time. But meanwhile, here's a postscript. According to The Week magazine, some 32,000 Americans die every year from falls. Guess which age group suffers the most?
I don't know what the politicians can do about the problem. But there is something we can do. And you know what it is: Install grab bars in the bathroom. Get rid of throw rugs. Install more lighting on stairs and entrances. If the politicians can't keep us safe, at least we can do for ourselves.