We are struggling with the aftermath of yet another
terrorist attack. Media is in full
throat. The event is page one of national and international papers. Cable news networks are in cry 24/7,
regardless of whether there is any hard news to report or not.
Terrorist attacks, whether at home or abroad, are
frightening and destructive to our national spirit and psyche. The random nature of recent attacks gives
everyone pause to consider the consequences of being in the wrong place at the
wrong time. The unexpected violence
causes us to lose perspective relative to other hazards we face daily and which
pose an even greater threat to our life and livelihood.
Possible terrorism attacks are a cause for vigilance and
concern and figure prominently in our national debate. Certain candidates in the thick of the presidential
nomination fight continue to make outlandish demands that we suspend our rights
of free speech and religious freedom in the name of preventing “radical
Islamists” from destroying us all.
We badly need a dose of reality in our national
conversation. The worst terrorist attack
in United State history on 9/11/01 left almost 3,000 dead. This was a horrific event and should not be minimized
in any way. However, in the last ten
years, the American death toll to domestic terrorist attacks is twenty-four people
by one count. Other sources may score a
few more or a few less depending on definition but the magnitude will remain
By contrast, approximately 32,000 Americans are killed by
guns each year. About the same number die
annually in motor vehicle accidents.
Drug overdose deaths totaled over 47,000 in 2014. Even lightening strikes, often held up as the
ultimate remote chance of being killed, claimed forty-nine lives last year, double
the number killed by terrorism in the last ten years.
There is no shortage of things that put us at risk and we
should not trivialize any of them.
However in the words of our President, “Not radical Muslim terrorism,
not an unsecured border, not an ever-growing federal debt that now exceeds $18
trillion, not the fact that 109 million live in households on federal welfare
programs. These are not the greatest
threats facing us today. No challenge--no
challenge--poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”
Costs and deaths resulting from climate change are more
difficult to quantify than are some of the other threats cited above, but are
no less real Climate change occurs
slowly and the impacts may only be apparent over an extended time span. However, climate change is the phenomena that
can wipe out or devastate an entire country or region and disrupt all life as
we know it.
Climate change should be the subject of our national
debate. What better time for that debate
than in the midst of a presidential election?
We need to tone down the inflated rhetoric about the threat of Muslims
in our midst and ask all candidates the hard questions about how they will face
the threat of climate change.