January 8th, 2019 3:20 PM
By John Hubbuch
I am mystified by America's lack of urgency concerning the potentially existential threat posed by global warming. More than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that humans are causing it. The alarm bell has been sounding for more than 50 years.
Smoking causes lung cancer. Global warming will eventually cause extinction.
Yet one of our two major political parties takes the official platform position that global warming isn't happening, or it is only temporary, or the consequences are exaggerated. Given the choice, it is apparently better to dig and burn coal than to slow the warming of the earth by using non-fossil sources of fuel. Not only is this the position of the Republicans, but their candidates got elected to the presidency, and until this past November they held both the House and Senate. Voters have been going to the polls and electing representatives who supported a preposterous position that flies in the face of the best science we have.
How could this possibly be in 2018?
So I did a little research, and it turns out we Americans have a lot of nutty ideas:
Two-thirds of us believe that angels and demons are active in the world.
At least half of us are absolutely certain that heaven exists and is ruled by a personal God, not a vague universal force.
A quarter believe that vaccines cause autism and that Trump won the popular vote in 2016.
A quarter believe that our previous president was the Anti-Christ.
A quarter believe in witches.
For the math-challenged, I am talking about tens of millions of Americans.
It gets crazier. According to the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of all U.S. adults believe that spiritual energy can be located in physical things like trees, mountains and crystals; 43 percent believe in psychics; 33 percent believe in reincarnation; 29 percent believe in astrology. And 62 percent of all Americans believe in at least one of these charitably-called "New Age" beliefs. Apparently, there are adults of our species who believe in reincarnation, but not astrology. Figures on belief in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were not available.
My research was perversely comforting. It would appear that I do not live in the world I thought I lived in. Millions of my fellow Americans are still living in the Middle Ages where angels, demons and spirits roam among us. Science does not exist. The Enlightenment has somehow passed them by. In our democracy, they are represented by their duly-elected representatives of the Republican Party, who endorse and promote this medieval world view. In a democracy, perhaps we really do get what we deserve. Where is Plato's Philosopher-King or -Queen when we really need him or her?
God help us — not the intercessionary one that monitors the quotidian existence of each of the 7 billion of us.
Rather, the cosmic mysterious unknowable one that supports science and reality.