Gary Horton | Ditch the Age of Stupid, Make Wisdom Great

Gary Horton

Today we live in, what will be called in the future, (if we make it that far), “The Age of Stupid.” You’ve heard of the “Dark Ages,” where most all prior human scientific knowledge was lost to the greater part of humanity. Today is different. We have more knowledge than ever before. More than we can even process. Our problem isn’t the knowing, it’s that we don’t have the wisdom or will to use the knowledge we have. Having knowledge doesn’t make us smart if we don’t use it correctly. Having knowledge and ignoring it makes us… stupid.  

Yes, we’re living in the Age of Stupid.  

Here’s a cute joke that proves the point:  

“We’re flying electric helicopters on Mars, yet the electricity is out and you can’t turn on your clothes dryer in Texas. That’s because scientists are in charge of Mars and Republicans are in charge of Texas.” 

OK, that’s biased against Republicans. But let’s be honest with ourselves: That implied label of “stupid” is one Republicans have recently worked especially hard to achieve. Just think of the guy with the horn hat and fur coat, running around inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. That image will forever be associated with one specific group… Trump Republicans… the horn guys. The “break the windows of the Capitol folks.” Not the sharpest pencils in the box.  

These are the anti-vaxers putting all the nation at risk, should a truly mean variant of COVID-19 break loose in their Republican southern retrograde state petri dishes. This is the anti-science crowd. The 40% of “follow anything lemmings” as long as it’s covered with a red MAGA hat. “Make America Great Again.” Most folks chuckle when they hear that now. “Great,” like a giant, worldwide dumpster fire. 

Speaking of fire: You notice it’s been hot lately. How hot? Let’s quote Robin Williams from “Good Morning Vietnam”: “It’s hot! Damn hot! Real hot! Hot as it is, in my shorts I can cook things in it, a little crotch-pot cookin’. …I said it’s so damn hot I saw these little guys in the orange grove burst into flames, it’s that hot, you know what I’m talking about?” 

I’ve been up in the San Juans in Washington State. These past days saw heat records shattered way up in Washington and Oregon. How hot? We’re all but bursting into flames. This is unprecedented. It’s supposed to be temperate up here. 

So how hot is it for you? The SCV got up to 117 degrees two summers in a row. Heaven help our roses and posies come this August and September. Dial up the AC and pray Edison doesn’t shut down the power as what remains of our forests burns to stubble. 

I have a friend (R) who believes all this is normal and it’s what God does, and man has absolutely nothing to do with the climate change that is make believe anyhow. God’s in control and everything balances out. 

No matter that over the past 200 years, we’ve burned trillions of tons of coal, trillions of barrels of oil, untold amounts of natural gas; our jetliners spew billions of tons of unburned fuel into the upper atmosphere, that we’ve burned down one-third of our rain forests, and blown off a hundred nuclear test bombs. All this is just a hill of beans… 

This same friend (R), grew up in the San Fernando Valley, like me. Back in the ’40s, ’50s, and early ’60s, folks had backyard incinerators. Everyone burned their trash in their personal incinerators – everything from paper to plastic to tires to the dead family dog. We also had leaded gas back then. Honest to God, the man-made smog was so bad you couldn’t see halfway down the street some days during summer.  

Well, we started something called the AQMD, and L.A. tore out the incinerators and outlawed leaded gas. Within just a few years the air cleared up and our air dramatically improved. Yes, we humans cleaned up much of our mess. 

Remember the “Hole in the Ozone Layer?” That was a real thing that sounded humorous but was seriously threatening. Turns out that the chlorofluorocarbons used in aerosol spray cans and air conditioners rose through the atmosphere and tore holes in the “ozone layer” causing hyper increased solar radiation. Scientists figured this out quick and the whole world got on board, and we changed the formulas… and again, we humans used knowledge and fixed the giant problem we ourselves created. 

Yes, armed with knowledge and the will to act, we can clean up our own messes. 

But my friend (R) doesn’t think human actions impact climate. He and most MAGA folks want to make coal great again. They want to make the U.S. the biggest oil producer in the world — forever. Just dig up stuff and burn it forever. Incinerate the world. God is in control. 

Meanwhile, way up in the Northwest Islands, it’s been too hot to go outside. Businesses closed because they don’t have AC because it’s too hot inside. Up and down the West Coast heat records are shattered. 

And floods are all over the South. Buildings are pancaking and hundreds are dying because rising ground water in Miami is compromising footing structures. 

It’s time to finally, factually face it: We’re in a whole new catastrophic world. It’s time to Make the Whole World Great Again. 

And just like when L.A. fixed its smog, and when we plugged the hole in the ozone layer, we can again fix our own man-made problem.  

But kicking the carbon burning habit won’t be easy. Burning hydrocarbons is the biggest business in the world. Oil, coal, and gas still power almost everything we do. Still, we have the technology and knowledge to fix this. 

But knowledge by itself is static. Wisdom is the action part. 

Let’s ditch this dangerous and costly Age of Stupid — and Make Wisdom Great Again. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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