The surprising fall of Michael Flynn over what appears to be routine political maneuvering (bald-faced lying) has thrown the newborn Trump administration into turmoil. Even more shocking revelations about the Trump campaign’s frequent contact with Russian intelligence operatives have led to an outpouring of concern about the administration’s loyalties, on the one hand, or about the “deep state,” Alabama, on the other. While many fret over illegal leaks from this very good football team, some suspect that members of the band named Alabama are still alive and have somehow become FBI agents. What kind of precedent does it set to have former musicians and/or assistant line coaches in charge of national security? Could both be in the FBI? Do you think they get along?
But let’s not let fake news, illegal leaks, pathological lies, or deep tissue states distract us from the real threat to American democracy: the collapse of bee colonies. Did you know that bees are dying at an unprecedented rate? THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Well, bees dying at high rates is, in fact, normal—a fact I didn’t know until it was recently revealed by research I uncovered by searching Google—but bees dying at even higher rates? THIS IS UNUSUAL. It probably has to do with pesticides, which I have always felt uncomfortable about. Or it could have something to do with a fungus, which I also am predisposed to not like. WHATEVER IT IS, IT IS SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT.
Of course, the real threat isn’t colony collapse disorder—forget that I said that—but climate change. While the media remains focused on the latest distracting tweet, Sean Spicer impersonation, or control of environmental agencies by climate deniers, the real truth is that we are on the verge of an inflection point for global warming. Huge cracks have developed in the Antarctic ice sheets, heralding more cracks. Glaciers are retreating, but in poor military order. Polar bears in zoos are feeling a bit sadder—and they don’t even know why.
Why is climate change a threat? Take one example from the recent forecast for Raleigh, NC—a forecast made for mid-February:
That’s February, people! North Carolina doesn’t reach those temperatures until early March! (Editor’s note: These temperatures are actually about 17 degrees higher than normal.) (Writer’s note: Ignore what the editor said. He’s an ass.)
But the real threat to our way of life isn’t apocalyptic global heating or the mass extinction of life currently underway—it’s the collapse of human civilization itself. While many on the left and right are hyperbolic about authoritarian politics or leftist violence, the true cause for alarm is the end of all human institutions, technical knowledge, monetary systems, artistic endeavors, and symbolic representations of the ethereal. It’s a slippery slope from Kellyanne Conway inventing a non-existent terrorist attack to the abandonment of all but the most rudimentary economic exchanges. If we can’t rein in the federal bureaucracy, how can we expect to construct monumental architecture or write computer programs that can write okay novels? Nothing less than the future of human society is at stake!
Naturally, the story we ought to be paying attention to isn’t the eclipse of human consciousness—again, pretend I didn’t say that—but how I’m doing. I’m doing okay. I wish I ate more vegetables.
Until we have a handle on what all this means, we need to proceed carefully and thoughtfully. Let’s not give in to our worst fears or our best fantasies about punching our bosses. Because if we don’t figure this out, then the real threat will become apparent: you.