Don’t Worry, Be Happy 

Last week, Hurricane Harvey drowned the city of Houston in more than 50 inches of rain, killing 43 people, destroying 30,000 homes, and leading 233,000 people to file for federal assistaince. This week, Irma, another category 5 hurricane, is gathering strength in the Caribbean and threatens to wreak havoc in Florida and on the east coast.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency, as the largest wildfire in Los Angeles history burned 6,000 acres, forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, shut down an interstate, and sent massive plumes of smoke into the air for several days. In San Francisco, the temperature reached an all-time record of 106 degrees over the weekend.

The polar ice caps are melting. Our glaciers are shrinking. Our winters are getting warmer. These are irrefutable facts.

It's no secret that in the U.S. and all around the world, severe and unusual weather is leading to natural disasters — drought, forest fires, floods, typhoons, tidal waves — at an unprecedented rate. What used to be categorized as 100- and even 500-year events are happening with alarming frequency. The world is undeniably and measurably warming, and the effects are becoming more apparent with each passing year.

Almost without exception, the world's leading industrialized countries — and most major international and national corporations — are making plans for the future that include adjusting for rising tide levels and increased flooding and other effects of climate change.

In the U.S., much of the research on climate change is being done by NASA and the EPA. With his usual exquisite timing, President Trump has decided to name Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine as the new head of NASA. He would be the first political appointee to head the agency. He has no science background, and he is a climate-change denier. Of course.

Over at the EPA, which has been gutted under Trump, employees are no longer allowed to even use the term "climate change" in official documents.

What is the endgame here? For the life of me, I can't figure it out. Why try to delegitimize science? What's the purpose? Unless it's to try to dumb down the American public to make them easier to manipulate. Or to make them believe that everything's "in God's hands," so why bother to get educated about anything.

Let me tell you a few things about religion: If your spiritual leader is a multi-millionaire who lives in a house bigger than most churches, he is a fraud and a hustler. If your spiritual leader is laying hands on President Trump and telling you that he represents a true manifestation of Christianity, he or she is a fraud and a craven political opportunist. If your spiritual leader has a television show and asks you for money and promises you prosperity if you follow his or her gospel, he or she is a damn crook. And if you send any of these people money, you are a fool.

Trump went to Houston twice last week in the wake of Harvey, and his quotes while he was there were striking for their lack of human understanding and empathy. While visiting a shelter where families that had lost everything were staying, Trump told the press that the people he spoke with at the center seemed "happy," adding, "It's been very nice. It's been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it's been a wonderful thing. I think even for the country to watch and for the world to watch. It's been beautiful." As he exited the shelter, Trump urged everyone to "have a good time."

Yes, I'm sure they're having a great time. And "beautiful"? Tell that to the folks who lost loved ones or everything they owned. Of course, beauty, like perceived godliness, is subjective, I suppose. And it looks like we're in for a lot more "beauty" in coming days. God help us.

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