Antisemitism is a powerful drug, but the three presidents saw their duty as defending the open market on thought. They upheld, though very badly, the core notion of academic freedom, which is free speech. But when free speech becomes hate speech with the threat of violence, what then?
Can you put conditions on advocating for antisemitism? Maureen Dowd expressed it this way: “Not since Bill Clinton was asked about having sex with Monica Lewinsky and replied, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” has there been such parsing.”
I spent a lot of years in academia, teaching at NYU, City College and the University of Wisconsin. There were things about it that I loved, but not the sense of moral superiority which infected some of the faculty and administration. I finally found academia to be constricting because it was often smug and self-satisfied. Yes, there were other reasons that I left, but I found more freedom outside the ivy-covered walls.
Now we have the spectacle of Ted Cruz and Elise Stefanik accusing the Harvard president of “intentionally fostering an environment that allows rampant and dangerous antisemitism.” We should not be surprised that she and her colleagues are just continuing their regular attack on liberal institutions. The GOP is very good at confounding issues that have no necessary connection—such as linking aid to Ukraine with the border mess.
But of course she was right to go after the three Ivy presidents. I guess they were advised by their lawyers to give legalistic answers, waffling over what should have been an obvious and strong response. The schools ought to be teaching the real and complex history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, not defending an abstract standard.
Academia is sometimes guilty of parsing the simple truth.
It’s not easy to imagine the mental state of climate deniers these days. The magnitude of recent fires, floods, storms, ocean warming, melting ice, intolerable heat, collapsing ecosystems (what have I forgotten?) has affected almost everyone on this globe. The deniers can no longer address these events as natural or normal.
How people bear with and try to process climate change is the subject of a recent article by Jia Tolentino. I recommend it to you. As conditions have become so unmistakably and dramatically appalling, the deniers have not pulled their heads from the sand. Tolentino says, “And the worse things get, the less we seem to talk about it: in 2016, almost seventy per cent of one survey’s respondents told researchers that they rarely or never discuss climate change with friends or family, an increase from around sixty per cent in 2008.”
The media plays up our climate disasters without apparently changing many minds. Warnings, threats and the pressing timetable of climate change are all over the news, but there isn’t any easy answer to the question of “when the alarms will finally be loud enough to make people wake up.” Simple reporting on climate disasters won’t change people’s minds. What will?
Wikipedia offers a lengthy, informative piece on climate denial here—it’s complicated, of course, and with a long history. There have been tremendous institutional efforts over time to deny climate change. You know how the tobacco industry covered up its poisons and worked its wiles for years to keep people smoking. Some of its same operatives are now doing the devil’s work for climate.
I think of it as a kind of conspiracy theory to keep fossil fuels alive. The vaccine deniers use similar nutty anti-science arguments to allay their followers’ fears. But if you believe Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., you do so at your own peril. One vast conspiracy after another makes up the world of the deniers. And there are lay deniers, scientific deniers, and political deniers.
There are also active deniers and passive deniers. Most Republicans, as you are no doubt aware, actively oppose climate remedies: “In the 2016 United States election cycle, every Republican presidential candidate questioned or denied climate change, and opposed U.S. government steps to address climate change as has the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate.”
Climate change must be addressed globally and politically. That’s obvious. Bill McKibben has pursued this subject for years. Recently he cited Canada’s continuing backwater on climate change, but he noted also Biden’s commitment to offshore drilling leases and his “giant oil and a giant L.N.G. project, in Alaska.” Obama also opened new sites to drilling, caving to the vast economic pressures of the oil industry. Even climate concerned presidents can’t resist creating that kind of cognitive dissonance.
Is climate denial another form of lying? Or is it just another way to ward off the pressure of reality, an uncomfortably obvious dodge? In the political arena, it seems like deliberate lying, just as Trump’s popularity owes itself to a mountain of lies. Time Magazine and Jeff VanderMeer, to their credit, recently castigated Ron DeSantis and the Republicans for their appalling record of environmental failures in Florida. An interesting note: “More than 90% of papers that are skeptical on climate change originate from right-wing think tanks.”
Such articles are not just a warning for Florida, a state that’s been environmentally abused forever. They are a warning about the disease of denialism, with “environmental decisions based on pay-to-play, punishing perceived enemies, climate denialism, a reliance on fossil fuels, and a fundamental misunderstanding of core issues and their effect on the future.”
One more thought: I don’t read David Brooks in the New York Times very often. But he wrote a reflective piece on his growing fears about AI. He is on the fence about whether AI will violate “the essence of being human.” I thought, if humans can’t begin to deal with climate change, how are they going to deal with all the unknowns facing us with AI? Will we be entering a stage of total denial?
The submersible Titan’s loss was no Greek tragedy. We had no hero with a tragic flaw; there was no grand discovery or revelation; we had, however, plenty of reversal of fortune (peripeteia). What we saw in the last week was a tragedy of spectacle, which humans always enjoy and which the media willingly provide.
At the same time, we and the media are guilty of giving short shrift to the thousands of desperate migrants now being lost at sea. A boat off Greece capsizes and hundreds die in the water. Viewers happily cut back to the more uncertain fortunes of the Titan. Its ending, predicted by some, was the anticlimax of a week-long deathwatch that drew millions of viewers. Few, I’m sure, wanted to think that the human drama was already over. Fewer still wanted to contemplate those hundreds dead in the Greek waters.
The four lost Titan passengers each paid $250,000 to die a quick, unsolicited death. An enormous air-sea search costing millions—as we will no doubt learn—was really a wasted effort since the sub imploded near the Titanic just an hour and 45 minutes after launch. Where was the effort to rescue the Greek immigrants?
I was immediately struck by the happy hubris of this guy in interviews. Well, how could sane people believe in someone who used off-the-shelf video controllers and RadioShack parts in vessels like this? An uncertified carbon fiber hull? Is the urge for perilous adventures so strong as to confound rational thinking? Two of the five passengers on board were experienced, smart, capable Titanic divers. They still bought in to this ride.
James Cameron, the seasoned ocean explorer (and “Titanic” filmmaker) was one of the few who spoke out about the disaster. He has made more than thirty successful dives to the Titanic. “OceanGate,” he said, “didn’t go through certification. It wasn’t peer-reviewed by other engineering entities, by any of these what they call classing bureaus that do certification for vessels and submersibles and things like that. That was a critical failure.”
I watched his interview on CNN. Toward the end he remarked on the supreme irony that both the Titanic and the Titan disaster were caused by hubris, that arrogant pursuit of power that goes against nature, the gods and human reason. So far, he’s the only commenter I’ve heard to use that word with regard to what happened in 1912 and what happened last week.
Titanic fascinates us because it seems like such a colossal failure of some kind of system back then, and 1,500 people paid the price for it. . . . The warnings were not heeded. They were warned about the ice, they had radio, Marconigrams, the Titanic captain was handed multiple warnings of ice ahead [yet] he steamed full ahead into a known ice field on a pitch dark night with no moon. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is.
It took just over a hundred years to prove once again that when the fates align, humans are their mindless victims.
“Reality,” says Haruki Murakami in a novel, “is just the accumulation of ominous prophecies come to life.”
Indeed, you don’t have to be a total pessimist to agree with that judgment. The world is presently so full of ominous prophecies that we’re simply incapable of taking action in critical areas. The greatest conundrums and quandaries of our time—Artificial Intelligence and how to handle it, climate change, politics, governance—offer us no widely acceptable or adaptable solutions.
Our quandaries grow out of the “ominous prophecies” from scientists, politicians, nut cases and media gurus, none of whom have viable answers, or even good partial answers. Humanity is stuck with qualified, fractional or crazed proposals that get us nowhere. Evaluating such stuff, much less acting on it, seems beyond our power. Our biggest predicaments are paralyzing us.
Geoffrey Hinton, so-called godfather to AI, recently quit Google to announce to the world the prodigious dangers of the new technology. He thinks these may be more urgent even than climate change, which is “a huge risk too.” Hinton believes “that the race between Google and Microsoft and others will escalate into a global race that will not stop without some sort of global regulation.”
The Biden administration just convened a meeting about AI’s risks. Given how the GOP works, who can be sanguine about the outcome? My friend Bill Davidow, a digital pioneer who has written much about AI, is also very worried about what he calls the rising dominance of virtual homo sapiens, “automatons that cannot put down their smart devices and spend endless hours perusing social networks and watching YouTube videos.”
He recently wrote me: “In general, I feel that the new technologies are in the process of creating purposeless unhappy people with severe mental problems. AI is a new tool for powering the process. We are maladapted to the virtual world.” Two Google scientists recently committed suicide in New York. What does that mean?
We all must hope that the AI horse is not out of the barn, but I fear that it is. Hinton worries that failure to control AI may even displace our failure to deal with climate change. Three years ago I wrote here about how unlikely it was that the world could achieve its 1.5-C degree warming limit. That is even less likely now.
Scientists and the United Nations keep issuing powerful warnings. China and other states keep relying on coal, and generate other pollutants. We keep reading headlines like this—Eleven Chemical Plants in China and One in the U.S. Emit a Climate Super-Pollutant Called Nitrous Oxide That’s 273 Times More Potent Than Carbon Dioxide—and wonder why nothing is being done.
Globally, a few countries are beginning to take action on climate, among them Denmark, Sweden and Chile. The big polluters face immense problems, of course. But, as MIT reported, “The US is by far the largest historical emitter, responsible for over 20% of all emissions, and the EU is close behind.” Right now, China is far outpacing the US.
How to deal with climate change is the messiest, most convoluted and critical problem that human civilization has ever had to confront. With political cooperation within and between countries at a new low, the outlook remains grim. I was just blessed with a new grandchild and fear for the world he and his brothers are going to inhabit.
In my life I’ve been very lucky to spend time and live in some desirable places: venues like Greenwich Village, Martha’s Vineyard, Little Compton Rhode Island, Chesapeake Bay, the coast of Maine. I took vacations to rare places like Tortola, the Leeward Islands and, years ago, Cozumel.
Now we learn that Cozumel, home to great scuba diving and laid-back Mexican charm, has been totally taken over by giant cruise ships. They disgorged some “1.2 million cruise ship passengers aboard 390 ocean liners in the first three months of 2023.” The place is now like St. Thomas and much of the Caribbean, host to hordes of vacationers seeking a charm that has vanished.
New York, the Vineyard—where we owned a small house—and even the fisherman’s backwater of Little Compton have been taken over by the rich and infamous who have transformed what was charming and unique into vacation spots for the masses with condos, hotels, Airbnbs, and freaks on mopeds.
You’re probably aware of how the process works. The word gets out from savvy travelers who tell their friends and cohorts about their wonderful discoveries. As in politics, word of mouth is a powerful change agent. Then come the speculators, sensing big profits, and the developers who build on models of what they know will sell.
The glowing reviews in respected travel publications just fan the flames and bring more vacationers who want a piece of the action. I wrote a blog last year about how some of us in Oaxaca respond to this.
Every new Travel+Leisure piece or New York Times article just brings in more of these vagrant deadbeats. They descend on us like the locusts. So we, or some of us, find a perverse joy in taking their money and making fun of them.
In smaller communities like Puerto Escondido, where I spend a good deal of time, demand can outrun supply, so prices go up and services go down. The infrastructure (water, health services, electric, internet, etc.) cannot keep pace. When my partner built a house here twelve years ago on a quiet street away from downtown there now loom five-story condos that are often in violation of the building codes. Trucks and construction noise abound. Real estate values skyrocket. Some old-timers want to move out.
One likely reason people are constantly searching for the perfect getaway is to escape from American culture. This is part of what drove me to Mexico some fourteen years ago. Today it’s the advent of Trump, the continuing tolerance of gun violence, the collapse of a working polity, the coarseness of American life, climate change—any or all can drive one to search for a better land.
And yet we know the transformation of good places into tourist havens has been going on for many years. It might be that laissez-faire economics also has something to do with this. People are encouraged to do whatever they want in the name of freedom, and desirable communities enforce few regulations. And many such places seem happy to sell out charm and uniqueness for the tourist dollar.
You must have noticed that so many public figures are guilty of excesses of the grossest kind. Moderation is out, self-indulgence is in. Hate and acrimony have become the coin of the realm. No wonder antisemitism is on the rise.
The top newsmakers are all masters of excess, as they parade their unique versions of cultural debauchery: Putin’s historically induced fantasies of conquest verge on madness; Musk raises egotism to new heights; Greene glories in her own idiocy; Santos gives new meaning to the concept of truth; Bankman-Fried tries to outdo Bernie Madoff. Trump, to be sure, is godfather to them all.
For sheer cultural excess, the scourge of guns in America outdoes them all.
About a year ago in a sort of whimsical piece I took to praising Oscar Wilde and his notion that “nothing succeeds like excess.” Maybe I should have thought twice about endorsing this idea. The common American culture has become excessively debauched in so many ways, and not only by the far right.
Liberal identity politics has sometimes assumed that people from red states are culturally and politically backward—and so it offers a kind of “cultural imperialism” to help these benighted souls. This is a sort of culture shock, often just another form of chauvinism like American exceptionalism. American life is full of such examples, as in the half-century it took to finally give women the right to vote. Racism is an extreme form of cultural chauvinism.
In my Oscar Wilde piece, I took on the truism that nothing succeeds like success, the notion that Oscar parodied. Another way of saying this is that “North Americans commonly believe that anyone who works hard enough will be successful and wealthy. Underlying this belief is the value that wealth is good and important.” Mm-hmm, and do we really believe that the wealthy deserve all their privileges?
The values of our society, which used to represent ideal conditions or accepted truths, seem to have lost their power. The norms that enforce them, like expecting fairness in a transaction, are consistently breached. How are we supposed to judge the controversy over Hunter Biden’s laptop? Or the immigration debate, which has been clouded over with years of ranting on both sides?
My rant here is not going to change anything. To expect us to return to Aristotle’s golden mean—avoiding extremes, the measure of virtue—is a fool’s errand. Most people don’t know who Aristotle is.
I beg to offer up some half-baked fallacies that many people still find plausible. On serious inspection, they are either unworkable, unattainable, or ill-conceived. Still, our society is often moved to accept, even welcome them.
Gun control. Many Americans are up in arms about the recent mass shootings, growing in numbers each year. Feckless proposals are constantly made urging the feds to end the sale of assault weapons, institute background checks, etc. and so forth. No serious reforms will happen while the GOP is in thrall to the gun industry. As long as Republicans keep playing on the obsessive fears of the MAGA masses, they will never give up their guns and the carnage will continue. Even dogs are shooting people.
Danger from gas stoves. We read lots of stories now about the environmental and health dangers of gas stoves. Really, how hazardous are these for most of us? Are cow burps and farts worse? And what about water heaters and space heaters that use 29% and 69% respectively more gas than stoves? Around 38% of U.S. families (124 million of them) have gas stoves, and who’s going to pay for them to convert to electric induction cooking? The average cost of an induction stove is over $2,200 and the needed electrical upgrades average around $1,000.
Netflix. If you love movies and TV series, there are plenty of alternatives to Netflix, which has become truly pathetic. “Netflix pumps out flavorless assembly line Jello in hopes something, anything, might ensnare a fan base.” If you live outside the U.S. as I do, their library is filled mostly with junk offerings, stupid kid films, repulsive horror shows, and comedies that aren’t funny. In 2022 Netflix lost 1.2 million subscribers and not only because it raised its prices.
Classified documents. Pence and Biden are now found irresponsible and guilty of harboring these papers, though Trump kept not a few but hundreds and refused to give them back. The whole process is outdated and unworkable, “national security” notwithstanding. Six years ago, looking at Clinton’s emails, we knew that “the government is classifying too many documents.” And why are government officials permitted to take them home?
The Doomsday Clock. It was created in 1947 by scientists to point out the dangers of nuclear war to the world. In 2007 it also incorporated climate change. Now, as a metaphor to alert people to incipient catastrophe it’s pretty much ignored. Last Tuesday the Clock was set to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest ever, because of the nuclear dangers in Ukraine. Are climate change and Putin’s posturing equal threats? What happens when we get to 5 seconds? The Clock seems to have become an abstract, ineffective way to promote concern and action.
These feel-good concepts still appeal to many people. And yet they are basically ill-conceived solutions for intractable problems. In our sometimes desperate need to fix things we seem to entertain solutions that create more difficulties than they solve. Like electing George Santos.
The NY Times recently published a piece in which a 41-year-old doctor in Boston muses about advances in the science of anti-aging. She is pregnant with her first child and wonders whether aging is really inevitable. Her dad does pull-ups at age 70 and pursues studies on “how he might slow the ticking clock.” Aging for folks like this is clearly something to be conquered, not accommodated.
“Longevity researchers,” she says, “would tell you that aging itself is a disease that we can understand and treat, cancer and heart disease and dementia only its symptoms.” Hmm, if aging is a disease, I must be pretty sick at 88. I do have age spots but no cancer or heart disease—yet—and no crippling ailments or obvious mental disorders, though some might contest that. So I got lucky in the old age sweepstakes.
I’ve been blessed with good health (with some minor problems) in the last few years, and I look at getting older as something perfectly normal. If I can get another year or so, that would be fine. I don’t fear death, though I might if things change. For now, I look and feel younger than my chronology would predict. Except in the morning.
Getting older, I’ve been drawn to feel that so much of what we do as a society works against nature. We humans can’t even manage ourselves, and all our false notions of progress are usually at the expense of the natural world and those less fortunate. How we respond to climate change will be the ultimate test.
So I find that anti-aging and extending human life are like so many other new tools for fighting off or plundering nature and advancing bogus notions of progress. Work proceeds apace on gene modification, CRISPR, AI, and other high-minded efforts to alter our humanity and improve on what nature gives us. I never thought I’d say this, but why is science always the answer?
A good friend in her mid-70s recently had major surgery for an intestinal blockage. She was quite healthy, and this came as a big shock. So did the resulting colostomy. She’s been depressed, won’t eat, and talks about wanting to just give up. The vicissitudes of our health can change everything.
If good health is everything, why are we so cavalier about it? Could someone in poor health rely on an anti-aging program? Will these programs be just for the rich? Of course they will.
To her credit, Dr. Lamas, the writer, is not wholly convinced that anti-aging science will provide a better life: “it is not entirely clear that having a younger genetic than chronological age confers a longer or better life.” If I continue to be blessed with good genetics and health, old age remains something to treasured—until it’s not.
I started this blog writing on climate change but soon became confounded by two obstacles—one, the complexities of the problem and two, as a non-scientist, trying to penetrate the fog of global politics surrounding it.
To respond to Bill McKibben’s somewhat rosy case for renewables, my friend Peter Yedidia thought to enlist his former colleague on an Africa project to tell us on Zoom why McKibben’s view came up short. We also wanted to know how he looks at the immediate future of power distribution.
A retired aerospace engineer, Guy Immega has worked for many years on the problems and the promise of renewables and the electrical grid. Per his bio, “From 1980-1985, Guy was the Renewable Energy Coordinator for the Province of British Columbia (Canada). He contracted an engineering survey of small-hydroelectric sites and organized the first wind and solar installations feeding the electrical grid.”
Guy is still very much involved in the global aspects of electrical power, its distribution, and its economic dynamics. Here is some of what he told us about these issues, a bit edited and shortened.
We’ve got to stop burning coal. We must stop it. Stop it now. But we can’t because there are some places like India where you can’t stop it. Probably can’t stop it in China either. These countries have economic pressures that make it almost impossible to stop because they need the cheap energy from coal.
Coal is a fossil gift from the past and we simply have to stop burning it. The problem is you’re not trying to compete using solar. Solar has already won, it’s a done deal. There will be a small refinements in solar where it will get more and more efficient, but the efficiencies will be just small percentages here and there.
The solar singularity has arrived. Solar is cheap. Solar is reliable, but solar will not supply a base load. And that’s what you have to compete with. One way to make power available is to build a coal-fired power plant. Another way is to have giant batteries on the grid. Another way is to have all the Tesla cars plugged into the grid at night. You can’t just say buy solar because solar is cheap. That’s a one-dimensional answer to a multi-dimensional problem. So the real issue is what is the cheapest way to maintain the right mix—so you can always turn on the lights, right?
There are a dozen ways that you can smooth the power out, but they’re all expensive and a little bit awkward and not easy to control. So if you want power at night, batteries are still more expensive than coal. That’s the issue. And so we’re looking at dozens of small tricks to maintain stability on the grid. I’m an advocate for the smart grid though there are lots of politics around the smart grid that I don’t pretend to understand.
You need to be able to absorb renewables like wind and solar into the grid. And one way to do this is to ship the power where it’s needed instantly. If you can move the power around with “power wheeling” (it’s an actual technical term) that means that you can ship power from Maine to California cheaply.
And so if a wind farm is going great guns on the coast somewhere, and you don’t need the power locally, then you ship it somewhere else. One of the problems with Hawaii is that the local Hawaiian power grid turns off windmills when there’s too much extra power. When you install a wind farm in Hawaii, you have to sign a contract that you will shut the turbines down when they tell you because their grid gets overwhelmed with wind power and they can’t control it. They have no way to store it. And there it is, the gnarly problem. I like that word gnarly. It’s a gnarly problem—distributing energy easily and smartly.
In British Columbia we were able to wheel power to Washington state, one of our big customers. Do you remember when you had the Enron crisis in California? They were turning off their local power plants and buying our power. Well, it’s ridiculous what happened. British Columbia gouged California and sold power at the highest possible price because California was desperate for electricity and we wheeled it down there and collected the money. And then later California sued. And we had to pay back $750 million of gouged funds. So, you know, that’s another little power morality tale.
I’m sure the coal industry is putting political pressure on Joe Manchin, but this can’t last. If coal doesn’t make economic sense, then they’ll jump to something that does. But the problem is technological at its foundation, and that is cheap energy storage. We aren’t there yet, and nobody’s come along with a magic bullet.
So the fact that discrete elements like solar are cheaper than coal is, well, that’s nice but that doesn’t get us there. And that’s the big gap I see and, for me anyway, McKibben’s article is really misleading. Well, that’s why I was disappointed with it.
You know, we hear the dire forecasts—basically that if we don’t get off our ass, we’re going to be hopelessly behind and never catch up. But given the current state of affairs, you could have said that a year ago, or two years ago, or three years ago. Now with all the attention focused on the war in Ukraine, how many people are really paying any attention to that IPCC report yesterday?
Yet that report is such a big shock that nobody knows what to do with it. We’re being told that doom awaits us, and nobody has a solution. If you look at the numbers what the IPCC has been advocating is emissions control. So they’re saying we have to stop burning fossil fuels. All very good, and emissions control is the restraint necessary, but nobody’s doing enough of it.
Nobody’s keeping up. Canada is not keeping up with its commitments. You know, India is going to burn coal because it’s pulling itself out of poverty with coal and they just won’t stop. They will not stop burning coal. And so we’re going to have problems clamping down on emissions. And what will happen is you’ll have more and more wild and extreme weather events. Another reason to stop burning coal is that we can’t further acidify the ocean. Ocean acidification is a huge problem, and cooling the climate won’t stop that.
There’s so much coal in the world that it’s infinite. I’m using coal as a metaphor for fossil fuel. It’s the dirtiest, it’s the nastiest, and it’s the most abundant. Germany decided that nuclear was bad, and they would switch off all their nuclear power plants.
And so they put up some wind farms in the North Sea. Good for them, but that’s not enough. They’ve got to have Russian oil and gas and this is a big problem now with Ukraine in the picture. So they have to get off oil and gas and they want to get off nuclear. So what they do is burn coal. They have huge coal mines in Germany, and coal is keeping the lights on and industrial Germany alive.
So I guess what I’m saying is take it piecemeal. I don’t know of any other way. We had to find as many small fixes as possible. In World War II they had victory gardens, people growing vegetables in their backyard. That was a little piecemeal solution to an agricultural crisis. Conservation is good, finding ways to use less energy, but that’s not enough either. It’s just part of the mix. We need top-down solutions, too. That includes large scale storage—grid scale batteries. We need wheeling of power on a smart grid. We need to use every trick to make it possible to absorb more clean renewable power.
Finally, the IPCC should reconsider geoengineering solutions to actively cool the climate. But that’s another topic.
Every new year begins with hope for a better one. This is traditional and expected. After the disasters of 2021 there seems to be a greater push than ever for optimism and change—even while we all feel the negativism out there. So how do you balance hope against realism, wishful thinking against despair? How can anyone account for the unpredictable path of the pandemic?
Some rely on the pseudo-science of forecasting, like the folks at Vox. See “22 things we think will happen in 2022” which features a fairly pompous introduction justifying the imperfect discipline of polling. They see the end of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Bolsonaro reelected, and the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Not too hopeful, is it? Most prognosticators like Brian Sullivan of CNBC focus on the economy, predicting a series of booms in areas that a majority of climate activists hope won’t happen—things like more babies and copper mining.
The one positive event that many seem to be ignoring is the launch and deployment of the James Webb telescope, a great scientific achievement that will, sooner or later, alter all our lives. Also, if you can believe the NY Times, Artificial Intelligence will begin to be used
One should especially pray for the latter development.
The Times also published an essay by Margaret Renkl entitled, “I Just Turned 60, but I Still Feel 22.” In it she doesn’t talk about feeling 22 but instead rambles on about feminism, getting fatter, and how it feels to be 60. She offers bromides about facing the future. I have to say that anyone who feels they are 22 at age 60 is not really facing the future. Or the past, for that matter.
For me, the really good news for 2022 is that a growing majority of people around the world are finally beginning to face the climate problem. Among them are young people, who of course are the best hope for the future. In an LA Times editorial, Tony Barboza writes that “when participants across the political spectrum were told that growing numbers of people are angry about climate change, they were more inclined to express their own outrage and support taking action.”
Anger and focused rage can be big motivators in persuading local officials and federal representatives to finally do something about the climate. 2022 could be a turning point. There’s always hope.