Day In/Day Out, Our Continuing Troubles

Some things are episodic. Others just go on and on. And on.

You might think a massive disease outbreak or skyrocketing unemployment would make our other troubles come to a halt or at least slow down. But no, not so much.

Here are a dozen examples of things that refuse to stop, regardless of the day of the week, the presence of an epidemic, or a collapsing economy:

  1. Greenhouse Gases.  Day in, day out, regardless of pandemics, wars, or national holidays, GHGs keep trapping heat. The most important GHG, CO2, can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. And sea level just keeps rising.
  2. Regulatory rollbacks.  Like locusts, the Trump team keeps chewing its way through protections for public health and safety.  Not even a global pandemic has slowed them down.
  3. The coronavirus.  Until we get a vaccine or herd immunity, COVID-19 doesn’t look likely to go away once it has a foothold.  Even where cases have declined, there’s always the threat of flare-up or of reintroduction.
  4. Senate rubber stamping of judicial nominations. Nothing will stop Mitch McConnell’s drive to pack the judiciary with ideological zealots.  And why should it? It’s been his greatest accomplishment as Senate Majority Leader. So long as the Republicans are able to, they’ll keep going down this path.
  5. Climate change denial.  Thousands of peer-reviewed studies later, climate change deniers refuse to acknowledge scientific reality.  Now many of them are branching out, denying the seriousness of the epidemic or blaming cell towers instead of the virus.
  6. The political influence of the oil industry.  Not even a pandemic and crashing oil prices can weaken the industry’s political power, as shown by its ability to get bailouts from the government.
  7. Natural disasters. Yes, it’s a bit obvious that these don’t care about hard economic times or pandemics or for that matter, elections.  But it bears keeping in mind: Just because we’re in the middle of an economic and public health crisis, that doesn’t mean we’re immune from hurricanes and earthquakes.
  8. The War on Science. Trump has grudgingly paid some heed to public health experts.  But don’t forget that the Administration has gotten its epidemiological advice first from a right-wing law professor (Richard Epstein), and then from an in-house economist who knows nothing about public health. In the meantime, the Trump EPA is pursuing what it calls a scientific transparency rule, which is really designed to keep EPA from considering important public health studies.
  9. Anti-vaxxers.  These people are proof that crackpot theories can span the ideological spectrum. But  this crackpot group poses a threat to the lives and health of others.  The pandemic hasn’t fazed them. In fact, they’ve started showing up along with racists and anti-Semites at anti-lockdown rallies.
  10. Trump’s twitter account.   No need to say anything about this.  If it’s a day of the week ending in “y”, there will be a slew of attacks on the media and Democrats, a patter of false information, and occasional attacks on old foes such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain as seasoning.
  11. Subsidies to fossil fuels. Old subsidies never die, they just get bigger.  Almost everywhere in the world, notably including the U.S., fossil fuels are boosted by special tax benefits, regulatory exemptions, and outright cash payments.
  12. Conspiracy theories.  There’s the one where the  coronavirus was started by a bio-weapons lab. No, some say it’s caused by 5G.  No, according to others, it’s Bill Gates, who wants to use a vaccine to inject us all with microchips.   Or could it be George Soros, a usual suspect amongst the conspiracy minded? You almost have to wonder: Who’s really behind all these conspiracy theories?

What all of these things have in common is their constant operation, in rain and in shine, regardless of changes in circumstances or scientific evidence. And none of them care the least about what you think about them.  Like “Old Man River,” they just keep rolling along.



Reader Comments

6 Replies to “Day In/Day Out, Our Continuing Troubles”

  1. One More Thing:

    Political and intellectual leaders are totally failing to meet, much less implement solutions to our increasingly overwhelming challenges of change today (including pandemics, global warming, social, political and economic instabilities and inequalities) even though lessons of history have warned us many times over. It appears as if a fundamental failure mode is that the human brain can produce destruction that it is not evolved to overcome.

    Self-serving corruption exists at all levels of society, especially politicians, and academia is certainly not immune. Many academics game the system to get better salaries and promotions for themselves instead of earnestly seeking and uniting to better mankind by producing and implementing answers to the challenges of change. Self-sacrifice for the greater good is a concept totally foreign to far too many academics, and society is suffering the consequences because far too many intellectuals refuse to “take on the sort of complications and impurities that come with being public” (per Hofstadter) as well as their failures to practice even what they preach to their students.

  2. it appears the laws of nature don’t pay much attention to the laws of nan

  3. Makes a fella simply want to cover his eyes,ears, drink beer and eat peaches. Do appreciate your thoughts, though. I predict Kamala Harris for VP. She could eviscerate Trump.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more