Can America save itself? The outlook is grim

The World is headed for disaster. For many reasons. But in America, in particular, the two-party system has ceased to do anything remotely right. Therefore we cannot provide leadership to any other country:

Between COVID and the climate, you have to wonder if humankind is capable of saving itself. I am not convinced. We’re getting too much fresh evidence that people — enough of them, anyway — will go out of their way to avoid solving the very challenging problems that face us. The outlook is grim.

So how are we in this mess?

What climate skepticism and vaccine hesitancy have in common, to a great extent, is that they both deny reality — about the nature of an urgent problem in the former case, about the possibility of a solution in the latter. Both are also largely (but not exclusively) phenomena of the right.

If one chooses to be sympathetic and squint a bit, climate denial can seem a bit understandable: The consequences of warming seemed decades away, something to be dealt with later rather than make any sacrifices or big changes right now. (Collectively, it seems our species probably would fail the Stanford marshmallow experiment.) The incentives for the advocates of denial were also easy to comprehend: Energy companies have spent untold sums of money over the years to block action and seed doubts about the reality of climate change. There were plenty of folks happy to take the check.

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