The Year of Living Dangerously
For Americans and others inhabiting the planet Earth, this has been a year where being alive has been associated with danger. The threats have come from both nature and man-made conflict that is potentially even more fearsome than the natural disasters. From the oceans, nature has spewed one high-grade hurricane after another, wreaking death and destruction on the Caribbean islands, Texas and Florida. As soon as one has taken its toll, another is ready to take its place and continue its attacks on human habitats. And the story is similar in the Pacific.
This unusual series of storms has caused damage and destruction not only from its terrifying winds, but by storm surges of water from the ocean and the Gulf, and flooding from the storms’ continuous downpours. Though these kinds of storms in such numbers are almost unheard of, President Trump and his Republican cohorts do not believe it has anything to do with climate change. According to the climate change deniers, these are just random events. The scientists who study climate and weather patterns, however, blame the severity of the storms on the warming of the ocean’s waters, which gives birth to more powerful and lethal hurricanes. These events can only be fought by controlling global warming, a long and drawn out battle that will take decades. But first, the politicians have to admit that global warming is real and is man-made. Trump- are you listening?
Nature has not been satisfied with unleashing hurricanes and tornadoes on mankind and is using earthquakes to add to its terrifying destruction. Mexico has borne the brunt of these so far in the Western hemisphere, but there have been minor rumblings in California that could presage more severe events. There have also been earthquakes in China and Japan, typhoons and cyclones in China, Japan, Tibet, and New Zealand, with landslides and avalanches. Extreme heat has also caused wildfires in America’s West and in Australia.
The earthquakes cannot be blamed on climate change, but the cyclones and typhoons certainly can. And the extreme temperatures and dryness have been responsible for the wildfires around the world and the areas of drought that will result in famine.
But natural disasters have not been enough for the year of living dangerously. The man-made threats of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea have been terrifying, particularly with no one stepping in to stop the progression. Two belligerent leaders, Kim and Trump, have been facing off, with neither pushing for a diplomatic settlement of this impasse. China, which has the most leverage over Kim and North Korea, has so far been unwilling to cut off that country’s lifeline of oil and gasoline which would quickly bring the entire country to a halt. Do they want to see a possible nuclear war develop, with radioactivity crossing China’s borders and millions of people dying?
There is also the threat of terrorism filling the Middle East, Europe and the United States. ISIS is losing territory but its lone wolves are attacking innocent people all over the world. There is no rhyme or reason to its depredations which is based on a paranoid view of the world with only Sunni Muslims being good people. How do you stop terrorism when you don’t even know who the terrorists are?
The Earth is a dangerous place to live, with nature and men continuously raising the threat level and making people wary of what lies ahead. Nature can be constrained somewhat if mankind controls global warming, a difficult task that needs a united front to be successful. America, one of the largest contributors to global warming, must be brought aboard, but how do you convince leaders who don’t believe scientific evidence.
The confrontation between North Korea and America can also be halted if both sides agree to diplomatic engagement. But how do you get belligerent leaders to the table without one or both of them losing face? And who is the intermediary who will act to bring them to the negotiating table? It should be a role that China would relish, but Xe so far has not made a move. And America keeps bolstering its military machine while cutting its diplomatic corps. Not a good sign for a peaceful solution!
Xe step forward.
Photo by Shutterstock