Environment

Is Climate Change in Your Problem Top 10?

At one last dinner, I sat between two men talking to each other. “Mr. Redd has been complaining about our borders and how President Biden’s policies have led to the arrests of nearly two million illegal immigrants.” Mr. Bleu jumped, “First of all, they’re unauthorized immigrants. Second, I can’t believe you’re worried about that. It’s not even on the top ten list.” I asked shyly, “What’s number one?” He replied, “Climate change.” I couldn’t resist. “Really, on failing schools? Hobo? Opioids? Structural unemployment? China?” I asked. He said, “Yes, follow the flag.” Ugh. Perhaps he thought the environmental allegory of “Don’t Look For” on Netflix was a documentary.

Sure enough, if you check out Quinnipiac’s latest poll on “the most pressing issues facing the country today,” you’ll get the same split. For Republicans, the answer is immigration (28%), the economy (24%) and federal debt (10%). For Democrats, it’s about Covid-19 (28%), healthcare (14%) and climate change (13%).

A few years ago, my family was hiking in Point Reyes, north of San Francisco, with a Rhodesian Ridgeback leash. Yes, I know, a politically incorrect dog. We spotted a wolf in the hills and quickly released our dog. When we approached another group with a dog, we warned them about the wolf. Instead of a ‘thank you’, we get a smug ‘okay, they were here first.’ really? Perhaps you wish the wolf would eat his little animal for breakfast.

For me, this exchange sums up the current state of environmental thinking. They were here first. Let’s go back to the old days. I don’t have time for this “degrowth” movement. Progress, not regression, solves problems. While the climate may change, meteorologists can’t even accurately simulate snowfall in Virginia this winter, let alone decades. We must adapt to change, not restrain growth. Climate change is the latest manifestation of the exhausting regression — the shift to reverse thinking. It all goes back to nature, turning back the clock, fearing overpopulation, and letting wolves roam. This “totalitarianism” may be as deadly as other “doctrines” of the twentieth century.

Americans have a lot of other problems. Crime is increasing and cities are in disarray. I asked a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side what she thought of New York’s new mayor, Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain. “Hopefully he’s like Michael Bloomberg,” she said. “Isn’t it like Rudy Giuliani, Law and Order?” I asked. “Ike” she replied. “So, do you like crime?” I asked sarcastically, knowing that homicides in New York City rose more than 50% in 2021 compared to 2019. Her answer? “Hey, we live in New York City, and we anticipate that. Plus, we don’t have a lot of crime in our neighborhood anyway.” right.

When did we surrender? San Franciscans gladly struggle to drink through paper straws, but they are distracted by brazen burglaries. One fall afternoon in Washington, I passed a homeless man sleeping on a bench at a bus stop. Next to him were eight policemen on BMW motorcycles taking a coffee break. I don’t get it, and I don’t understand why policymakers would allow tent cities to proliferate. When did we defame the police?

My Top 10 list starts with education. Elegant tech solutions need to learn to thrive. I’m with Sal Khan from Khan Academy, who has probably helped more students succeed than anyone else in history. He told me that everyone could learn every subject. a period. We simply are not trying hard enough. Reforming educational outcomes would go a long way toward resolving inequality and racism. Let’s stop paying Universal Basic Income, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and first aid programs for the homeless – let’s solve the problem at the root. Thanks in part to the policies of AFE President Randy Weingarten, too many students escape our education system without the tools to succeed, leading to increased crime and homelessness.

Then I’ll add cheaper healthcare, another industry that’s going to be changed by technology. In addition, our global supply chains have been collapsing for decades. Very bad. Trade and immigration are linked. Better jobs in other countries lead to higher standards of living so the United States can export software instead of importing people. I am concerned about addiction to opioids, gambling and alcoholism. Mental health needs better resources. The hasty exit of the United States from Afghanistan means that our international standing is in disarray. We get stronger every time we raise other countries to our standards instead of lowering ourselves into the usual model of taxation, spending, and bankruptcy. China, terrorism and banter that annihilates freedom of expression is all I have 10.

As we head into a new and hopefully more natural year, what are your priorities – your top 10 list of interests? It’s a good idea to start thinking of solutions so that you don’t warily respond with “they were here first”.

Write to kessler@wsj.com.

Magazine Editorial Report: The Best and Worst Week of Kim Strassel, William McGurn and Kyle Peterson. Images: AP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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