Our species, grandiloquently self-proclaimed to be homo sapiens, is adept at not seeing things that are coming straight for us. We tend to hope for the best, to pooh-pooh the experts (aka “naysayers”), or to look to our respective gods to provide.
Who among us has not passed in a no-passing zone, if not on a curve?
The prophet Jeremiah had us pegged millennia ago as being “foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.”
We are dealing with the consequences of that myopia today. We are not only shortsighted; we are prone to venality as well. Four of our leaders in the United States Senate swung into action after a classified briefing on COVID-19 on January 24: they lessened their exposure in the stock market by hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a rare bipartisan effort: three Republicans and one Democrat.
They clearly saw it coming, but meanwhile our president, who had access to the same information, responded this way to a question on January 22 about whether he was worried about the pandemic: “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
The words would change but the presidential tone would not for more than a month. In early March he likened the virus to the seasonal flu, only less deadly, no biggie.
On March 7, he said, “I’m not concerned at all.” On March 10 he said: “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Today America’s highest ranking homo sapiens would have us believe that he and his administration are doing a helluva job combating the pandemic. If you believe that, it’s time to pony up $35,000 to take a course at Trump University. Actually you can’t enroll in this unlicensed “university.” After multiple lawsuits and paying out $25 million to settle with former students, it is now mercifully defunct.
What does it say about our species that in 2016 128 million of us couldn’t pick a wise man or a wise woman to lead us?
And while we’re on the subject of myopia, here’s another thing our sapient leader in the Oval Office is telling us is no biggie: Climate Change. In fact, Climate Change is not just coming straight for us and our grandchildren; it is already here. Don’t take my word for it, check with the Pentagon or your insurance company. They’re have been factoring it into their plans for a decade or more.
If you don’t see Climate Change in relentlessly rising temperatures and sea levels, melting glaciers, dying coral reefs, catastrophic wildfires, and increased frequency of extreme weather events (Houston had three 100-year floods in 18 months), I suggest you take a second look.
Long before the current administration was busy not getting America ready for COVID-19, it was doing everything in its power to hasten the impact of Climate Change by relaxing or eliminating environmental regulations and slashing funding for conservation programs.
For example, its proposed 2021 budget eliminates support for many programs such as the National Wildlife Refuge Fund, which is critical to conserve the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge that protects the 7.2 million-acre Connecticut River watershed.
It’s hard to fund environmental programs and lavish huge tax breaks on wealthy Americans and large corporations.
Consider this: many of the same people who were—and in some cases, still are—calling COVID-19 a hoax, steadfastly insist Climate Change is a hoax, too.
Yes, fighting Climate Change, like battling COVID19, is not going to be cheap. But as the saying goes: “We can pay now or our grandchildren will pay later.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we proved Jeremiah wrong, just this once.
David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.