It’s a rare news story nowadays that spawns mirth. But I had to laugh when I read that North Korea, in a fit of pique worthy of a terrible toddler, had blown up one of its buildings where failed peace talks with South Korea recently had taken place.

Ka-Boom! Take that—and watch out or we’ll blow up another one of our buildings! Monty Python couldn’t improve on that.

North and South Korea, once one nation, have existed in a state of war, hot and cold, for 70 years.

That ridiculous explosion is sad as well as funny, and a powerful metaphor for the idiocy and incompetence afoot in the world. Doesn’t it seem like one big Demolition Derby out there? To quote the late George Jones, “Things have gone to pieces.”

In this country, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, people are taking sides over wearing masks, which scientists point out keeps the  people around them, safer. The responsible use of masks by you and me is also crucial to keeping doctors, nurses and first responders safe.

But the un-masked are insisting on being free from constraint, free in effect to become potential disease vectors —free to be anti-social idiots. In the best of times there are places that require people to wear shoes and shirts (even coats and ties) to get served; when going to the beach (most beaches, anyway) one dons a bathing suit. So how is wearing a mask at certain times and places until this is over such an unbearable imposition?

And contrary to the White House-dwelling champion of the great unmasked, the virus is not going to “fade away.” With leadership like that, it’s a small wonder that the United States is leading the world in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths: 2.2 million and nearly 120,000 respectively as of June 21; the former is almost equal to all of Europe. With less than five percent of the world’s population, America is now seeing 20 percent of the new cases worldwide.  In fact, the E.U. is contemplating banning U.S, travelers. Instead of the “Kung Flu,” as our racist president termed it at his recent failed rally, perhaps it’s time to call it the Red, White and Blue Flu.

As horrible as COVID-19 is, another pandemic has been spreading across the globe and is intensifying. We better not screw this one up, too, for the sake of our children and their children.

It’s hard keeping up with all the bad news lately, so here’s something you may have missed (in normal times it would have made the front pages): thanks to melting permafrost caused by Global Warming, more than 150,000 barrels of diesel fuel has spilled into a river in northern Russian and is wending its way toward the Arctic Ocean. The disaster has been compared to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

The tank holding the fuel was built on permafrost that had held solid for centuries, but the good old (frozen) days are over because the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the planet. In fact, a temperature of 100 degrees was recorded in a Russian town within the Arctic Circle on June 20. When permafrost melts it releases trapped methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that will further contribute to rising temperatures.

These are just two of the countless signs of a warming, ailing planet. Annual global temperatures now routinely set record highs. Last year was the second warmest on record, and the seven hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the past decade. So glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, forest fires are more frequent and intense, and the greatest nation on earth elected a man who doesn’t believe in climate change or renewable energy, a man who thinks coal, the fossil fuel of yesteryear, is our future.

The climate pandemic that the current administration is doing so much to stimulate will be far more devastating than COVID-19.

A sick planet is no place for the ones we love.

David Holahan is a freelance writer from East Haddam.

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