The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 is Saturday, a day that I don’t publish on. Therefore, I wanted to do a 9/11 article today. It has a different twist than the plethora of articles you will be hit with over the next few days but I think it gets to the essence of the real issue: a deadly threat to America.
I remember where I was (Tarpon Springs, Florida) on September 11, 2001 when I got the news of the attack and who I was with (Bobby and Manny). Like most, if not all, who were adults that day, I’ll probably never forget that moment.
It was the number one topic by far as the day wore on. I was relatively new to Florida and most of my friends knew I came from New York. Non-New Yorkers think all of New York State is New York City. I’m from Buffalo, which is very different and about 400 miles from New York City but to my new friends in the Sunshine State I was the “resident expert” on New York City. The most striking comment came from a friend originally from the Great Plains and the graduate of a Big 10 school. Typical of that background he was careful and thoughtful about opening his mouth and what came out of it. I think he spoke for most Americans that day when he said “I want to see (expletive deleted) blown up.” Like my buddy Rob, most Americans wanted revenge and retribution. They were also scared.
I’ll anger a lot of people with this paragraph but I think we learned that foreign terrorism wasn’t nearly as big a threat to the mainland as we thought on that day. Today it has certainly been overtaken by domestic terrorism and right wing disinformation. Keep in mind that today the right wing disinformation machine is killing more than twice as many Americans as died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 via avoidable COVID-19 deaths every week.
Here is the really scary part; that is not the greatest medium-term threat to mankind. That threat is climate change and it existed before 9/11 yet the American Republican Party doesn’t even recognize it. (The only political party of consequence on the planet that doesn’t.)
Currently COVID-19 is mainly a red state problem. Domestically it began as a mainly blue problem which motivated the Trump administration to initially largely ignore it seeing political advantage in doing so. They thought they could blame the deaths on blue state governor and it wasn’t their voters dying anyway.
Climate change has never been either a red or a blue problem and it is certainly moving in an even more non-partisan direction.
Hurricane Ida is the most recent example of that. It came on shore in red states leaving behind destruction. It left the lower 48 via blue states and killed over 40 people while causing billions in losses largely due to record flooding.
In much of the western region of the country wildfires are waging. While the Pacific coast states are blue not every area of them is and their neighbors to the east are in many cases purple or red. Climate change is already non-partisan and will only get more so.
Something few are even discussing is climate migration. I won’t even touch on people fleeing to America from other countries; today I’m just talking about domestic climate refugees. How is Idaho going to feel about 100,000 Californians “invading” their state? Is Tennessee or Kentucky going to welcome 500,000 climate change migrants fleeing Florida? This is going to happen sooner than you think and those are only two, off the top of my head, hypotheticals. In reality the numbers will be much larger and there will be many more examples. Remember I’m only talking domestic climate refugees today.
COVID-19 is still the present danger and must be dealt with. Today the greatest terrorist threat America faces is domestic, not foreign, terrorism. We can take climate change off the front burner – did we ever have it there in the first place? – but it marches on regardless of anything else. I’m afraid that while we commemorate 9/11, and we should, that we are forgetting that red, blue or otherwise climate change will get you. That is the real and constant threat.
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