Twelve years ago, Kevin Rudd, a liberal Australian prime minister, spoke at the National Climate Summit, famously declaring climate change to be “the great moral challenge of our generation.”

Since then he’s been replaced by a conservative exhibiting the same attitudes about business, environmental issues, national exceptionalism and science as President Trump.

Brazil’s similarly “low information” voters have since done the same thing — their new President’s Bolsonaro’s policies encouraged ranchers to light 2019’s more than 74,000 fires responsible for the greatest loss of Brazilian rainforest (more than 4 million acres) during that whole decade. When they got together for their annual summit in Biarritz, France and horrified G7 member nations (“foreigners”) offered him a $22 million donation to the firefighting cause ($22 million wasn’t nearly enough to save that forest). Our state of California had spent nearly $1.8 billion fighting 9,000 fires that had destroyed “only” 1.2 million acres of its land during 2017). Bolsonaro refused their/that offer because “The Amazon is Brazil’s, not yours.”

That’s pretty stark evidence of just how badly the world’s rainforests, important buffers against global warming and home to millions of the world’s remaining wildlife, are faring in today’s hyper-polarized world.

The leaders of some of the world’s most “advanced” countries seem to have become completely incapable of making rational decisions based on physics and facts. A likely consequence is that a lot of their citizens’ descendants are apt to lead miserable lives and suffer premature deaths, as will the majority of the Earth’s other living creatures.

Darryl Siemer

Idaho Falls