The Maskless Ones

A Detailed Map of Who Is Wearing Masks in the U.S.

Texas ‘wide open for business’ despite surge in Covid-19 cases

Rep. Louie Gohmert, and the rest of the anti-maskers, are beyond irrational

The band struck up “Louie Louie.”

We pretty well know why Trump goes maskless. One reason is his vanity; the other is political: if he masked up, his persistent denial of the virus would be in jeopardy. Lordy, if he would only test positive, it could change the course of the disease. His toadies might just rethink their maskless lunacy.

Masking only works if a great majority wears them. The way things are going now in the U.S. we are in for a long onslaught of plague. Obviously, the virus numbers grow as the fools unmask and gather in bars, etc. Texas is the prime example. Despite a mandatory mask order, people continue flocking to “bars, restaurants, movie theaters and shopping malls” because Republican Governor Greg Abbott called them “wide-open for business” back in May. Interesting, isn’t it, that Republican governors have been responsible for most of this confusion nationwide.

This past week that wise old dog, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, tested positive and cheers went up from Democrats everywhere. Gohmert has consistently gone unmasked in the halls of Congress, spraying droplets everywhere and pissing off everyone from Pelosi on down. Meanwhile the band struck up “Louie Louie.” Remember that one?

And Republicans, not just Trump followers, form the overwhelming majority of the maskless. It’s their protest, not against science, but against reason—of which they have a bare minimum. Some of them chant, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: “there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.” He noted he’d rather die than see the economy destroyed. Well, Dan, you are in line for the first Louie Gohmert Viral Dysfunction Award.

The maskless are making their statements not just in Texas and the U.S. but around the world. Russia, the U.K., Germany, the Scandinavian countries—they’re all opening up. The reasons for this behavior vary, of course, “But some might be to show defiance, to make a political statement, to somehow express or feel like they are free and can do whatever they want.” Add to that a general distrust of government.

Such behavior is basically childish, and one of the prime examples is the Mexican president, López Obrador. He takes pride in going maskless, like Bolsonaro and Trump. He recently said, “I am going to put on a mask, you know when? When there is no corruption anymore, then I will put on my mask.” Mexico now has the third highest death toll in the world and corruption is more than ever a fact of life.

Asking people to grow up is certainly a fool’s errand. But how many will have to die before they wake up? Said Virginia Heffernan, LA Times writer, “Refusing to wear a mask is like supporting the fire against the fire department. It’s like openly sneezing into a packed elevator. It’s stupid. It’s also kind of disgusting.”

The Politics of Lunacy

  • On the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday, President Donald Trump talked about dishwashers, dryers, shower heads, and faucets. . .[while] the U.S. shattered its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting more than 77,000 thousand cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. —David Gilbert
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp urged residents Friday to wear a face mask when in public, two days after blocking local cities from enforcing their own rules to further prevent the spread of Covid-19. —CNBC
  • In Maine, Republican Senator Susan Collins is fighting for survival. You may remember Collins as the self-styled brave independent moderate, who spends most of her working days caving in. —Gail Collins
  • It’s a little weird contemplating Sessions now. Trump’s treatment of him was outrageous, but if anybody’s going to suffer a political stab in the back, you have to be glad it’s the guy whose policies as attorney general ranged from keeping more people in prison longer to “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” —Gail Collins
  • [Arizona Governor Doug] Ducey several times said the increase in cases correlated with the increase in testing. But over the past two weeks, cases increased by 76% and tests increased by just 52%. —azcentral
  • Hardly any leaders even floated mask-wearing advisories until they were themselves neck-deep in a local pandemic crisis. They could not learn from others, only taking actions like these in a sort of last-gasp panic state. —David Wallace-Wells
  • “When you’re in show business, you meet people like Trump, you meet people who literally don’t exist in the same dimension as you; they’re just gone. And that’s what he’s like. He’s like Cosby in a way, these people who are completely deluded and they’ve been famous and all of their wishes are attended to—they lose complete touch with reality,” Apatow adds, calling Trump the “abusive parent to the country.” —Judd Apatow
  • “I don’t want to spend my time doing things that I don’t think are valuable enough to me personally,” [CNN’s Chris] Cuomo said in audio heard by the New York Post and CBS News. “I don’t value indulging irrationality, hyperpartisanship.”
    “I don’t like what I do professionally,” he said. “I don’t think it’s worth my time.” —Julia Reinstein
  • “I’ve never been in a better position professionally, I’ve never been more grateful, I’ve never been on a better team,” Cuomo said Tuesday [the next day] on his SiriusXM show. “I love where I am. I love the position that I’ve been given.” —Mark Kennedy
  • No one in the campaign can control him. No one in the White House even wants to. As CNN’s Jim Acosta put it after this latest disaster [the Tuesday Rose Garden briefing], “We are down to Kool-Aid drinkers and next of kin” at the Trump White House. No one there will stop him, because Trump has worn down every competent, sane person who would possibly imagine working in his White House. It’s the most thankless job in D.C., and rats notoriously leave sinking ships rather than board them. —Rick Wilson
  • In Britain, as in the United States, hooligans have been pulling down statues. And in Britain, as in the U.S., the media have absurdly tried to frame their vandalism as some sort of civil rights protest, as if all they wanted were equal treatment. —Dan Hannon
  • Kanye West is officially on the ballot as a presidential candidate in the state of Oklahoma. —Ben Jacobs

A Nation of Nutcases

A Plague of Willful Ignorance

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

Flight from Reason: How America Lost Its Mind

Sometime in or around 1970 I encountered Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Daitch Shopwell supermarket around the corner from where I lived in New York. You couldn’t miss him—a big tall red-faced guy—someone who became important to me in my later political life. Mostly from his famous statement, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

That sentiment has always stuck with me, its relevance never more obvious than right now. Moynihan wrote a paper in 1965 called ”The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” which talked about the social pathology and disintegration of Black families. He said, prophetically, ”The principal challenge of the next phase of the Negro revolution is to make certain that equality of results will now follow. If we do not, there will be no social peace in the United States for generations.”

Moynihan was a complex, sometimes fractious man who embodied the best traditions of American public life. His statement about opinions and facts comes home to me especially now when fully a third of Americans (according to Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland) believe in cockeyed conspiracy theories, unproven fantasies of all kinds, and distrust science and reason generally. Climate change is a hoax put forward by “a conspiracy of scientists, government and journalists.”

Paul Krugman recently talked about our partisan culture war in A Plague of Willful Ignorance. That war is expressed in the notion that wearing a mask has become a political symbol, an assault on individual liberty. Krugman finds that “there’s a longstanding anti-science, anti-expertise streak in American culture—the same streak that makes us uniquely unwilling to accept the reality of evolution or acknowledge the threat of climate change.” This used to be called anti-intellectualism.

The tradition goes back to the Know-Nothings of the 1850s and extends through H.L. Mencken’s prescient commentaries in the 1920s about the booboisie: “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Thomas Patterson of Harvard’s Kennedy School pursues the tradition in a more sweeping vein with Flight from Reason: How America Lost Its Mind. The book explores the tribal politics of our time, tracking the unprecedented amount of false belief and misinformation that people continually embrace. From an excerpt:

Ironically, the misinformed think they’re highly informed. “Cognoscenti of their own bamboozlement” is how sociologist Todd Gitlin describes them. A study found, for example, that those who know the least about climate-change science are the ones who think they’re the best informed on the issue. Another study found that those who are the least knowledgeable about welfare benefits are the ones who claim to know the most about it.

The digital revolution in mass communications has made things worse. The need to cast blame outweighs the urge to discover the truth. There is so much misinformation abroad now that it has become institutionalized—and not just in the political parties. Patterson finds that TV hosts from Limbaugh to Maddow “traffic in outrage,” conveying the notion that they alone are the purveyors of truth.

Negotiation between the parties becomes fraught:

When Republican and Democratic lawmakers agree on the facts, they can negotiate their differences. It becomes harder when they can’t agree on the facts. As the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once complained when negotiation over a bill broke down, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.” Facts do not settle arguments, but they’re a necessary starting point. Recent debates on everything from foreign policy to climate change have fractured or sputtered because of factual disagreements.

But facts are facts, right? The kinds of disagreements about them that Patterson notes are usually bogus smokescreens for fixed opinions. Krugman had it right: “there’s a belligerent faction within our society that refuses to acknowledge inconvenient or uncomfortable facts, preferring to believe that experts are somehow conspiring against them.” The president is leading this parade.

Speech for Joe Biden

Good morning. And thank you, Mr. Crump.

Everyone liked my Philadelphia speech last Tuesday, but I fired my speechwriter so we could try a new tack. We’ve got a new campaign to talk about because the country’s going to hell in a handbasket. You know it and I know it.

Everyone but Trump and the Republicans know it. The brainwashed and the baptized know it. Jim Mattis knows it.

I stand solid with the George Floyd protestors. They are turning America’s attention to our oldest and most sordid problem . . . racism. The good cops take the knee; the bad cops tear-gas and shoot rubber bullets into innocent people. I’ve always been a pro-union guy but now the police associations are coming after me.

I’ve talked about setting up a commission to investigate police abuses. That’s not enough. We need legislation like Justin Amash’s bill to end court protection of police. The Supreme Court has been giving cops the green light to abuse people for years! Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds.

In America, black deaths are not a flaw in the system. They are the system. Black people are only 13 percent of the population, but they constitute about 26 percent of US coronavirus cases. They are 3.5 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people. Trump’s inaction has put his knee on the neck of all COVID sufferers.

I worked my butt off to get healthcare to all Americans, yet Obamacare was only a step toward that goal. Trump has the gall to say, “In 3 1/2 years, I’ve done much more for our Black population than Joe Biden has done in 43 years.” In 3 1/2 years Trump has done more to set back the lives of black people than anyone in the past 43 years. You know it and I know it. Everyone but the tin-pot Mussolini knows it.

Trump is today’s Governor Faubus. He gave us the spectacle of a staged photo op, a blasphemy in front of St. John’s Church. It was like Faubus standing in the doorway of that Arkansas school. Maybe it took this sacrilege to remove the blinders from our people.

Maybe it took the police assault on innocent protesters. Law enforcement cannot be allowed to squelch peaceful American, first-amendment protest. And it shouldn’t take tens of millions out of work to realize how dire our troubles are. Black young people see it every day when they can’t get work. One out of every seven U.S. workers is out of a job, and yesterday the president was crowing about it.

Some say I haven’t been strong enough in my condemnation of the status quo. Well, I’ve outlined a whole series of policy proposals—from making 60-year-olds eligible for Medicare to reforming student debt. More will be coming—on infrastructure, climate change, economic depression. The times are moving fast, and Joe Biden is changing with them. You’re going to see us not only beat Trump but begin the transformation this country so desperately needs.

It won’t be easy or quick. The roots of racism and economic dislocation are real and very deep. But if I’m president we are going to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can. I hope you will take that journey with me.

Joining the Herd?

Sweden’s Coronavirus Strategy Will Soon Be the World’s

Lockdown protesters shout ‘be like Sweden’ — but Swedes say they are missing the point

As Europe emerges from lockdown, the question hangs: was Sweden right?

If you thought the politics of coronavirus couldn’t get any crazier, think again. Trump has totally copped out of any pretense to manage the crisis, while the U.S. leads the world in cases and deaths. If so many people weren’t dying, this could be high comedy: see Sarah Cooper above. Did you ever have a nightmare with humorous overtones?

The right wing has begun praising Sweden’s approach after years of vilifying its liberal government. The left wing wants to keep everyone locked down. Wisconsin opens up completely with no protections. Armed protestors get nasty in Michigan. People are fed up with staying home and the economy is suffering badly. So hoping for immunity is apparently a last resort.

Sweden’s opening up is based on the idea that eventually the populace will develop immunities to the virus, a herd immunity of maybe 60 percent, though that will require voluntary social distancing and other restrictions that the Swedes seem to be buying into. Yet the country has been criticized for “exceeding the per capita death rates of other Nordic countries and in particular, for failing to protect its elderly and immigrant populations. People receiving nursing and elder-care services account for upward of 50 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Sweden . . . .”

So the Swedish response is really a mixed bag, though one site opines that “the economic and social costs of lockdowns are enormous.” It has taken a careful government response to slow the spread of the virus, though this hasn’t been entirely successful. The fact that many Republicans are now praising Sweden is based on a total misunderstanding of the policy and its outcomes. Tucker Carlson praising Sweden is truly high comedy. Nor would the policy work in the U.S., which has large populations of immigrants and low-income people. In Sweden everyone is covered by a healthcare plan.

The idea of herd immunity makes many people skeptical and afraid. And yet, to follow the Swedish argument, we have to “find ways of living with this virus. There is no sign of a vaccine on the immediate horizon. We cannot ruin the world economy indefinitely. Better to concentrate on protecting our health services against it, should it return.”

The Swedish model will certainly not work everywhere. In Sweden there is a high level of trust between the people and the government. That is absolutely not true in the U.S. or, for that matter, the U.K. And the Swedes have a much healthier population that comes from a better healthcare system. They don’t do so well at helping at-risk people.

The U.S. is learning that it ultimately can’t manage a general lockdown. It can’t even manage to produce enough swabs. The country is going to be forced into adopting a kind of herd immunity because, as Trump’s folly has shown, there’s no other workable choice.

Testing, Testing, Testing

Not Even the Coronavirus Will Unite America

The US economy can’t reopen without widespread coronavirus testing. Getting there will take a lot of work and money

Trump refuses to lead a country in crisis

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that reopening the economy depends on a program of massive testing. One wonders why it takes a new coronavirus task force of business brains (sans Mitt Romney) to figure this out.

“States can do their own testing,” Trump said. “We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.” Well, there is no way the states and their governors can coordinate and provide the millions of tests per week required. It seems undeniable that any reopening of the economy will result in big spikes in the virus, and who knows how many deaths. Q.E.D.

The Rockefeller Foundation, a major player in health care funding, has a testing proposal.

“It’s going to [initially] cost at least $100 billion and upward of $500 billion over the long haul,” said Eileen O’Connor, senior vice president for communications, policy and advocacy at the Rockefeller Foundation.
The foundation’s plan, which will propose that the cost be financed directly and subsidized by the federal government, estimates that 20 million to 30 million tests each day would need to be performed to get many Americans back to a more normal life.

Their plan will target health care workers first, then food production workers, then truckers. “After that, the goal would be to have tens of millions of tests done every day to have the country fully return to work.” The very idea of implementing such a plan seems totally beyond the thinking of the Trump administration.

At the same time, bureaucratic screwups have made things worse. Nature magazine tells us that their “investigation of several university labs certified to test for the virus finds that they have been held up by regulatory, logistic and administrative obstacles, and stymied by the fragmented US health-care system.”

And the public is so polarized that even a brutal pandemic can’t bring it together. Writing in The Atlantic, Dominic Tierney proposes that nothing short of a powerful human enemy, a Kaiser, a Hitler, will unify the country.

Every aspect of the crisis is colored by partisanship, including beliefs about which information sources to trust and views about who is worthy of federal aid. Even the act of social distancing is political—another way to show tribal colors—as liberals urge people to stay at home and conservatives chafe against government restrictions. The evangelical Liberty University has decided to welcome back thousands of students . . . and has instructed professors to hold office hours in person.

How can one even imagine a program of adequate testing within this kind of tribalism? As the poet said, thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

The Trump Administration Will Be Our Downfall

The Trump administration’s botched coronavirus response, explained

An outbreak of incompetence

Covid-19 Is Twisting 2020 Beyond All Recognition

Do yourself a favor and stop listening to the president’s press conferences. How much more waffling and incompetence can you take? “Wear a scarf if you like,” he said the other day. After weeks of fumbling, the CDC has recommended face masks for all. “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” said Mr. Vanity. “Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens—I just don’t see it.” Who can bear to listen to this daily testimony to blather? He can’t even bring himself to issue a national stay-at-home order.

People are fed up, as a slew of recent articles demonstrates: I’ll give you excerpts from a few of these.

Jennifer Rubin, ex-Republican writer for the Washington Post, is one of the more fiery anti-Trumpers. Today she wrote:

One has the sinking feeling that things are going from bad to worse. Trump and the feds declined to act swiftly, in particular failing to get widespread testing up and running. Now they are failing to remedy the dire medical crisis that their negligence brought on.

She tasks the administration for much that’s gone (or is going) wrong—messed-up stimulus disbursements for small-business loans; the Navy brass who fired the captain pleading for help for his thousands of sailors fighting the virus on board his ship. Rubin concludes:

The chaos, confusion and incompetence at the federal level magnify our daily anxiety and uncertainty. We have lost control of our lives, and those supposed to lead us through this ordeal are deepening our national trauma. Years of contempt for expertise, for competent government and for truth itself on the right now haunt us all. God help us.

Thomas B. Edsall, the Columbia professor, frequently offers scholarly political opinion in the New York Times. His critiques are detailed and thorough. Recently, he said, “The current pandemic shows signs of reshaping the American political and social order for years to come.” Trump’s reelection is increasingly in doubt, and partisanship is the major cause.

A new study, Edsall notes, claims that “Partisanship is a more consistent predictor of behaviors, attitudes, and preferences than anything else that we measure.” In other words, the political split in the U.S. largely determines how people respond or fail to respond to the pandemic. That is frightening.

Another piece by David Roberts of Vox documents the “devastating public health consequences” of another partisanship study, which has “Republicans expressing more skepticism and taking fewer precautions, largely following the cues of their political and media leaders (as most people do).” Roberts says partisanship in the U.S. may no longer have any limits:

If a large bloc of the public cannot be convinced of the threat or the need for a response, that bloc can prevent collective action all on its own. It can ensure the virus spreads faster and more widely, no matter what the majority does.

Finally, Vox’s German Lopez presents a historical catalog of how the botched response to the virus “has been a disaster years in the making.” It started with John Bolton’s dismantling of the team in charge of pandemic response in spring 2018 and proceeded through the unbelievable testing failures, the backwaters on “social distancing,” the cutting of funds to critical agencies like EPA, NIH and CDC, and the total foot-dragging on the response to the growing virus threat. Trump has made clear that the lower the numbers, the better his chance of reelection. Now he’s cast his own destiny.

And we learned yesterday that Jared Kushner is now running the coronavirus response. As Rubin said, God help us.

On a personal note: some of you know of my long involvement with jazz music. The past week was especially sad as the coronavirus claimed the lives of three great musicians—Ellis Marsalis, Bucky Pizzarelli and Wallace Roney. I play their music in memoriam. So should you.

The Sanders and Biden Climate Plans

Why climate voters made Biden the front-runner

How Biden’s climate plan stacks up to Bernie’s

The four biggest differences between the Biden and Sanders climate plans

If you follow the politics of climate change, you know that Bernie Sanders has the support of the hard-core environmentalists. Despite the practical challenges to his plans and the incredible costs predicated ($16.3 trillion over 10 years), the Sanders followers are proclaiming the rainbow.

Joe Biden’s plans will cost $1.7 trillion over 10 years and tackle the same issues as Sanders does—but in much broader, less time-restrictive strokes. Since his big Super Tuesday win, the environmentalists are getting on Biden’s case. Here are the major differences between the two:

  1. Fracking, the two-edged sword: natural gas has been a big factor in taking down coal-burning plants but makes its own contribution to global warming. Bernie wants to end fracking immediately; Biden wants to limit the release of methane, fracking’s by-product, and fund research into carbon capture.
  2. Nuclear: Sanders would end all nuclear energy production (some 20 percent of all U.S. energy now). Biden would explore development of advanced nuclear technologies, relying on perhaps promising innovations in the works. No target dates.
  3. Emission deadlines: for Sanders everything must run on renewable energy by 2030; Biden calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Biden’s climate plans aren’t less thorough than Sanders’s. He makes detailed recommendations for action, but they are less time-bound if not less urgent. Yet they seem to have been a factor in winning him Super Tuesday votes. He’s building a broader coalition.

One explanation is that

most voters don’t meaningfully distinguish between the candidates’ climate plans. Although some voters take cues from green groups who score candidates’ plans or provide endorsements, last night demonstrated the limits of their power—at least for the moment.

 . . . Biden’s climate plan was scored at or near the bottom of the field by the Sunrise Movement, Greenpeace, 350 Action, Data for Progress and the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. The Sunrise Movement endorsed Sanders and campaigned for him aggressively.

That didn’t stop Biden from winning a plurality of climate voters across Super Tuesday states, according to a Washington Post compilation of exit polls.

Biden took 33% of those voters compared to 28% for Sanders, 16% for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 11% for billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The climate movement may be finally taking shape politically. More people are paying attention, and the upcoming two-person contest will generate still more interest in climate. That may well redound to Bernie’s credit, though Biden will surely highlight the unfeasibility of his plans.

Emergency without Urgency

Trump’s Coronavirus Press Conference Wasn’t Exactly Reassuring

Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts

A Very Hot Year

If you watched El Cheeto’s incoherent news conference on coronavirus, you saw someone attempting to announce an emergency and minimize it, while continually congratulating himself on the good job he’s doing. It was a disgusting performance, totally unreassuring and self-serving. If you’re telling people everything is fine, there is no urgency. The stock market reaction shows us something different.

It was later reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, “the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was told to ‘stand down’ and not appear on five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the coronavirus.” Presumably, he would only scare people.

Climate activist Bill McKibben recently wrote: “It is far too late to stop global warming, but these next ten years seem as if they may be our last chance to limit the chaos.” That’s the urgency. Government and university labs have been predicting the climate crisis for thirty years and more. And what’s been done about it? McKibben tells us how the emergency was predicted, with the World Health Organization calling it “potentially the greatest health threat of the 21st century.” We are not even close to accepting that; coronavirus is so much more immediate.

McKinsey, the management consulting firm, has been taking it on the chin recently, not without cause. They recently published a study about climate impacts, showing their severity. It was an impressive summary, though their lame conclusion was not:

Societies have been adapting to the changing climate, but the pace and scale of adaptation will likely need to increase significantly. Key adaptation measures include protecting people and assets, building resilience, reducing exposure, and ensuring that appropriate financing and insurance are in place. Implementing adaptation measures could be challenging for many reasons. The economics of adaptation could worsen in some geographies over time, for example, those exposed to rising sea levels. Adaptation may face technical or other limits. In other instances, there could be hard trade-offs that need to be assessed, including who and what to protect and who and what to relocate.

A lot of conditional words here (“likely,” “could,” “may”) but no urgency, and unfortunately that’s been typical of much of the writing about climate. Too little of what we write has any immediate urgency. A Guardian writer in the U.S. south put it this way:

In eastern North Carolina, where I grew up and write from, climate change was never a polite topic of conversation. I was told the same in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and by a minister in Georgia. Too many southerners are still dancing around the reality of climate change, and the cost of avoiding the conversation is going to be steep.

Politics, Confusion and Doubt

Planners talk about resilience in the face of climate change. We need to start using a different R word.

 CLIMATE SCORECARD: 10 critical climate actions that the Democratic nominee for President can take immediately upon entering the White House.

Jeff Bezos just made one of the largest charitable gifts ever

Our extreme level of uncertainty and anxiety today begins with Trump and ends with climate change. We don’t seem capable of dealing with either.

The president is getting away with murder: the pardoning of crooks, the sick cronyism, megalomaniacal acts of revenge, and daily denials of reality reached new heights this week. There seems to be no way to stop him, and the opposition party is in disarray. Mike Bloomberg, as we saw Wednesday night, will be no savior.

Climate change efforts are also in disarray. The Democratic debate saw almost no consideration of what the candidates were calling “an existential problem.” They attacked each other, inflated their accomplishments, blathered on again about healthcare, and so there was no time for talk about the existential issue of our time.

Aside from a few studies there has been a total failure to plan for or address what’s certain to come from climate change.

Around the world, instead of some 50 million people being forced to move to higher ground over the next 30 years, the oceans will likely rise higher than predicted, with a coastal diaspora at least three times larger; by 2100, the number of climate refugees could surpass 300 million. Indeed, sea-level rise looks likely to be measured in yards and meters, not inches or feet.

The world is more unsettled in ignorance and anxiety than at any time I can remember in my 85 years. We’re living in a world where bots on Twitter control opinions, creating more disinformation and anxiety. A recent study finds that

On an average day during the period studied, 25% of all tweets about the climate crisis came from [climate denialist] bots. This proportion was higher in certain topics—bots were responsible for 38% of tweets about “fake science” and 28% of all tweets about the petroleum giant Exxon.

Is there any good news? Well, Jeff Bezos the world’s richest man, announced he was giving $10 billion for a climate initiative to “fund scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” Maybe this will quiet the ongoing efforts at Amazon to make the company more climate conscious? Probably not.

Are the billionaires like Bloomberg and Bezos finally stepping up to the plate? We don’t yet know how Bezos’s gift will be structured, what it will cover. The devil will be in the details. We do know that the Democratic candidates are all over the map on climate—from Bernie’s pie in the sky ideas to Bloomberg’s and Klobuchar’s proposals which scored at the bottom (1 out of 10 criteria) of a recent evaluation.

When will they ever get a debate format that puts them on the hot seat? There is no accountability in the way we debate climate issues, just as there is no accountability with Trump.