The overwhelming consequence of populism, a phenomenon that now dominates our political lives, is that it distracts us from the real and urgent issues that confront us. I will tell you this for free: the world is going to hell in a handbasket. And the politicians who dominate our lives today are not helping us avert the disaster we face.

How many readers of this column, or members of the general populace, know that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report in September written by 90 scientists from 40 countries saying that if humans don’t take immediate, collective action to limit global warming by 2040 then hurricanes, extreme droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes and famine will spike, swiftly becoming a regular part of our lives. The report says we need to reduce global carbon emissions by as much as 40% by 2030.

Just stop and think about that. Some of the best brains of our generation are warning us that our children — the people we claim to love the most — will be living in a dying world in just 12 to 20 years from now. They have no future. Yet, in the run-up to the US midterm elections last week President Donald Trump, the “leader of the free world”, opted to beat his supporters into a frenzy of fear by deploying troops to the Mexican border apparently because the US was about to be “invaded” (his words) by about 4,000-7,000 desperate refugees from Honduras. The election took place on Tuesday November 6. Trump and his favourite news outlet, the right-wing, racist Fox News, have said absolutely nothing about this alleged “invasion” since then. It is the invasion that disappeared. Of course, we know why there is no talk of invasion now. It was never there in the first place. This was populism at its worst. It was a distraction, a manipulation of people’s feelings to deflect their attention ...

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