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Sat Jul 20, 2019, 12:53 PM

UN report warns of literal existential threat we face [View all]

By Sid Schwab

Herald columnist

Recently I lost a friend because he thought I’d called all Trump supporters, including him, racist. In fact, I was calling on non-racist supporters to speak out against Trump’s deliberate manipulation of those he believes are racists. He was unconvinced.

I wonder how he feels about Trump telling four Democratic congresswomen of color, three of whom are American-born, the fourth a naturalized citizen, to go back to their “broken” countries. As Trump claims they’re “pro-terrorists,” feigns outrage that they say “vile” things and use the F-word in public, one concludes the White House mirrors are broken.

If you defend Trump’s latest, it’s because he hates the people you hate. Because of you, he sees it as winning strategy, sees you as an easy mark. If that characterization offends, take a stand. Or stop pretending.

Like the above-the-law dictator he imagines himself to be, Trump is attacking America itself, made great since its founding by disagreement and protest. It’s who we are. Except for Trump’s latest ralliers, chanting “Send her back.” Whom he praised, gloating. (YouTube: tinyurl.com/2gloat4you) If, in your heart, you’re chanting with them, you have no idea what patriotism is nor what America is about; you make it clear it CAN happen here.

But enough. Believe it or not, we’re facing something even worse than Trump: mass extinction.

Commissioned by the United Nations, a summary of the results of a three-year study on the magnitude of the problem has recently been published. Comprising the work of five-hundred scientists and referencing 1,500 research papers, it covers a range of earthly perils. Driving Mercer Street to downtown Seattle lately, one comes to understand. In addition to traffic that allows three cars per stoplight on a good day, high-rise dwellings are sprouting like asparagus, block after crowded block, readying to house more people by the thousands. There are too damn many of us.

“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” wrote the co-chair of the 1,800-page report. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

We’re bludgeoning our planet to a slow but certain death. As we heat it up to intolerable levels, deplete finite resources, cause the elimination of millions of species, we’re destroying the home whose complex ecosystems sustain us. And though it’s obvious what needs doing, it’s increasingly unlikely to happen, for humanity lacks the required collective wisdom, and America’s leadership is no more. Increasingly, we seem to be looking backward, wishfully, not ahead and clear-eyed.


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