The Bad News in the Bad News

Hurricane Florence is devastating America’s east coast while super-typhoon Mangkhut lays waste to the northern Philippines.

Religious believers wonder where God is in all of this, while skeptics scoff that such calamities clearly prove the foolishness of belief in an all-good, all-powerful Being.

There’s plenty of foolish belief to go around, however. Believing that human beings can be rallied to work together to solve major problems, such as those thrown up by Florence and Mangkhut, for example.

Many people fervently believe that we need to convince the world of the reality of severe and increasing climate change. Once convinced of that inconvenient truth, the world then needs to be convinced to take one or more of several drastic steps in order to slow and even reverse it.

Massive cutbacks in the use of fossil fuels—which would almost certainly stop the economic development of most of the world’s population. Massive investment in renewable energy sources, which would hamper every other economy as well. Massive changes in the production, use, and disposal of pretty much everything, from water to garbage. And massive technologies to alter the very weather, with unforeseeable risks built in (it is the weather we would be altering, after all).

Are we surprised at the lack of buy-in to such unfathomably costly schemes?

Some people focus on smaller-scale, but still gigantic, human initiatives. If we look back a year to Hurricane Maria, how has the Caribbean fared since then?

Let’s focus on the most privileged of Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico, a protectorate of the richest country on earth, the United States. And we find that America’s Chief Executive denies the extent of the catastrophe while the island remains mired in damage, depression, and despair. Remember: that’s the best-case scenario, being an actual part of the United States, and yet Puerto Rico is still a disaster zone.