Great news! With so much to worry about, there is a vast world of impending calamity you can simply ignore.
CNN — A large blimp developed by the Chinese military has been spotted for the first time at a remote base in the desert of northwestern China, exclusive new satellite imagery obtained by CNN shows.
Aerospace experts say the images, taken three months before a Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, could signal a notable advancement in China’s airship program, demonstrating a more versatile and maneuverable craft than previously seen or known.
Yeah. Sounds ominous, but I’m not going to sweat the Chinese spy blimp that just popped up in the news. Just letting it slide. It got my attention for a sec, but I’ve already let it go. Sorry.
By the same token, notwithstanding a spate of horrifying flesh-eating-bacteria stories over the past few weeks — including this one over the weekend — I’m not going to obsess over the risk of twisting an ankle and three days later being a quadruple amputee. Not saying I'm rooting for that to happen, but I’ll expend no psychic energy rooting against it.
Not going to fret supervolcanoes, either. Yes, if all 17 of those geologic ticking timebombs around the globe blow at once, the ensuing pall would end life on earth. But, first of all, those are Powerball-level odds. Second, it would validate the visceral lava fears I’ve harbored since I was 4, so … but mainly I have too much other existential apprehension on my plate right now.
Galloping inflation? Out.
Kosovo/Kashmir/Jerusalem/Taiwan Strait? Off the anxiety table.
Elon Musk? Meh. (Don't get me wrong. He’s a pathetic, reckless, megalomaniacal piece of shit. But ain't nobody got time for that.)
Rare earth elements shortage? Come on. Really? We as humans have only so much existential-terror bandwidth. That’s a hard pass. American credit default may be imminent and catastrophic, but that’s not on the Big List, either. Dude, for an unnerving dose of perspective, please know that guns aren’t there, either. Guns.
Bully Pulpit is a reader-supported publication. Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I’m not trying to frighten you; I’m trying to help you. The threats are so many and so overwhelming, we simply have to be more efficient with our paralyzing dread. I mean, how much underwear do you have in your drawer? Don’t waste it on global depression or whatever. If you are fixated monomaniacally on supervolcanoes, no offense. Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we are immersed in a Doom Glut, and that calls for stark choices. All you microplastics Cassandras are just going to have to suck it up. Meteor watchers, take a number. Bike-lane advocates, seriously, just shut the fuck up.
The list that follows is what should keep you awake at night, babbling incoherently. I know this post is digital, but I strongly advise you to print, clip, laminate and save. (For extra irony credit, slip it in your wallet next to your organ donor card.) Herewith, the Yelp of Dread:
5. Pathogens. Seven million Covid deaths. Almost 800 million infections. What’s the next mutation? Or the next zoonotic virus? Or antibiotic resistant superbacterium?
4. American Fascism/ American Taliban. If you’re peering over the horizon, you’re looking in the wrong direction. It is already here, in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, South Dakota and wherever books are banned, abortion is cut off, voting rights are curtailed, racism is legislated, Congressional districts are gerrymandered, Christian Nationalism reigns and conspiracy nuts rise to power.
3. Artificial Intelligence. The genie is out of the bottle and moving at breakneck speed, possibly already out of reach of human intervention. Its almost incalculable utility is destined to be exponentially outweighed by the vast unintended consequences.
2. Nuclear War. Golden oldie, but Putin has his shaky finger on the button. And he is a psychopath. Not to mention Kim Jong Un. And Pakistan. And newly authoritarian Israel. I cowered under my first-grade desk in 1962, and I’m still quaking.
1. Climate Change/ Water Shortages. The most critical threat to humanity, because it is progressing unchecked by concerted governmental action. Why? Money and power. The world will end in deserts of reason and floods of greed. And the bike lanes will be empty.