Growing up as a baby boomer, it seemed like the worst thing that ever happened was the Vietnam War. My friends and I worried about all the young men (some of them boyfriends) who might be drafted and die in a war many people believed we shouldn’t even be fighting. “Make love, not war,” was our slogan. The 60’s were a time of economic expansion, when there was still a middle class, when young people still valued idealism. (War is not good for children and other living things.) Back then it seemed like we cared about each other and our generation thought we could make the world a better place. In some ways we succeeded; after all, there have been profound changes for minorities and women, (although more changes are still needed.) But back in the 60’s, no one talked about—or to my knowledge—even considered global warming.
Unfortunately, even in the short time since I started this blog, tragedies and violence have proliferated at such a frightening rate that I (along with most of the rest of the world) find it difficult to make sense out of it all. How are we to understand the shooting of 26 first graders and their teachers in Newtown, CT? Or the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan; the kidnapping of nearly 300 school girls by the Boko Haram in Nigeria? What about: the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian airplane over the Indian Sea; the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenaged boys in Israel followed by the revenge murder of an Arab teenager and a new war in Gaza; the killing of 298 innocent people on another Malaysian plane, (probably) mistakenly struck by a Russian missile? I’m sure I’ve left out many other atrocities here and abroad that resulted in widespread bloodshed.
Ohyes, I almost forgot about global warming! All those photos of the ice caps melting, sad looking polar bears, and the threatened extinction of various plants and animals essential to the continued health of the human race are quite alarming. Although most sane individuals agree that our planet is undergoing profound climate change, there are still people (most notably from the businesses emitting destructive pollutants) who deny the situation exists. Since the 1970s, temperatures have risen faster than ever before, with the 20 warmest years beginning in 1981 and all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Sea levels have also been creeping up. Researchers project that by 2100, sea levels will be 2.3 feet higher in New York City. While no one can say whether the next century’s super storm Sandy will swallow the Big Apple, scientists are predicting that heatwaves, droughts, blizzards and rainstorms will continue to occur with greater intensity due to global warming. Moreover, 97% of climate researchers agree that global warming is real and caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels that pump carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
What do we propose to do about all of these costly and overwhelming problems? Thanks to government gridlock, our elected officials here in the U.S. have been unable to agree on doing anything about anything. Politicians in the rest of the world don’t seem to be doing a better job—and many are doing far worse. Witness the travesty of President Putin denying responsibility for providing the missiles to Ukrainian separatists who shot down the Malaysian airplane last week. And how many more innocent school children will have to die because of the omnipotent gun lobby? If people can’t take responsibility for the violence and destruction happening daily all over the world, RIGHT NOW, how can we persuade people to worry about what happens to our planet over the next 100 years?