The American voter has been dumbed so far down that he no longer cares about issues any larger than Trump’s, er, “hands” or his own wallet.
Thus issues on which the very fate of the human race and its planetary home may depend barely register, if they register at all, on the Richter scale of political polling.
In the so-called “debate” between Trump and Clinton, for example, there was no reference to climate change. Yet, for the first time in more than 4 million years, the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is above 400 parts per million and staying there. (In one million pounds of the air we breathe, there are 400 pounds of CO2.) Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. Even if emissions were to drop to zero today, we would be aware of no positive effect in our air for almost a century.
Before the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began spewing masses of CO2 into the atmosphere, fhe carbon dioxide level io earth was about 280 ppm. The allowable level for human health is thought to be between 250 and 350 ppm. We have now entered dangerous territory, not just because greenhouse gases accelerate climate change, but also because too-high levels in themselves constitute dire threats to our health. Since humans weren’t around the last time Earth had such high levels, we are sailing on uncharted seas, not knowing where be dragons. But the soaring frequency of extreme weather events, the rising seas, the wildfires, the monster storms and floods are dramatic warning signs that we cannot afford to ignore. Perhaps when the last Manhattan skyscraper goes under water, or all of Louisiana and parts of Mississippi are wiped out by cholera, some genius debate moderator will think to ask a political candidate a serious question about climate change.
Or about nuclear policy.
Toward the end of the last so-called debate, the moderator asked, "On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation's longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy?”
Trump replied first. Russia, he said, has “a much newer capability than we do; we have not been updating from the new standpoint." Yes, he actually said that: "updating from the new standpoint." Still more gibberish followed, with Trump insisting that China could prevent North Korea from using nukes and prevent Iran from getting them. Or something. Clinton said, well, we Americans need to keep our word. Or something.
Nobody challenged either candidate’s nonsense or demanded elucidation of their positions.
The fact is that the world is closer to nuclear war right now than at any point since the Cuban missile crisis. Clinton’s record demonstrates a propensity to push potential enemies so far that we will be forced into conflicts likely to escalate quickly into nuclear ones. Trump has no real “record” on nuclear policy or any other serious topic. He has a record of vile middle-of -the-night telephone calls. One can easily imagine his ringing up the palace in Pyongyang around 3 a.m. and saying to Kim Jong-un, "Hey, you fat little slanty-eyed prick, guess what button I’ve got my finger on?"
Does anyone care?