Two views this week stand as a haunting portrait of planetary distress.
From the ground: Frantic kangaroos bound in silhouetted stampede against advancing hellfire.
From the sky: Flames and smoke literally ring the Australian continent, its outer reaches charred like unattended toast.
No wonder right-wing politicians there, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have circled their sedans against the fury of people who know bought-and-owned policies helped create this situation.
We who worry about tensions in the Middle East think we are focused on the biggest story in the world. We are off by a long shot.
The human passions of a region can be moderated if leaders will it. Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama demonstrated this.
It’s a lot more daunting to rein in the fury of a planet pushed to the brink.
Young people know this and are far more alarmed by the really-big picture. That’s why Greta Thunberg has become a patron saint to so many (yes, only 17 and the fourth most admired woman: Gallup).
Donald Trump scores points with his base mocking her and her cause.
Like much of what he does and says, this is to his party’s long-term detriment.
Young Americans are reacting to him like creatures fleeing the inferno.
A few million young Americans have come of voting age during the three ghastly years of the Troll President.
Most of them know and appreciate the science of climate change. They know that doing something about it isn’t anti-business. It means a sustainable economy. It isn’t anti-jobs. It’s about jobs for the future – their future.
Trump’s only concern has been about jobs concerning his political future – rhetoric and policies to placate Big Energy, particularly “beautiful coal.”
By the way, Trump’s pandering has done little to elevate coal as an industry. The market is dictating against it.
So how are Republican policies doing with young voters? If we are to assume that young people are always going to be more liberal than their elders, the Party of Trump is cultivating twice the blowback that conservatives might have expected from young voters.
In 2018, Democratic congressional candidates outpaced Republicans 2-to-1 among young (18-29) voters – 67 percent voting for the Ds, 32 percent for the Ts (T for Trump, the R’s lasting curse).
This isn’t just your garden-variety show of affection and alienation, reports USA Today, but “the largest share of the youth vote won by Democrats in recent political history.”
Ignore those flames, Mr. T.
Young people observe the Party of Trump do nothing about the gun violence that has stared them in the face.
They observe the Party of Trump playing a game of chicken with Iran with live ammunition, after obliterating a nuclear agreement that can only make their planet more dangerous.
Speaking of relations on that planet: Nothing Trump has done as president has enhanced America’s global standing.
In an article titled, “Why Europe hates Trump more than Iran,” Politico chief Europe correspondent Matthew Karnitschnig writes that if Trump expected support there for his cowboy tactics with Iran, he is attempting to lasso his loafers.
For one, European leaders are furious about Trump’s nuking of the Iran deal. For another, they were incredulous about the brazen dispatch of Team Trump in assassinating Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Since Europe is far more vulnerable to anti-West retaliation, writes Karnitschnig, “Efforts to convince Europeans of the bright side of Soleimani’s killing have been met with dropped jaws.”
There you go: As our planet overheats, our Great Leader sloshes around with jugs of accelerant.
But look at this the way Republicans do. It’s got to be good for the kerosene industry.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado.