(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

President Trump thinks a good investment would be spending tens of billions of dollars on a border wall, and sending thousands of U.S. troops to do something or other down there. The point, if there is one, is that you can’t wait for a problem to arrive before taking action. Oh, if only he, and we, could actually learn that lesson.

As usual, Trump pointed, and the media, as usual, went running in the direction he pointed. Suddenly we saw reporters standing alongside exhausted, desperate walkers heading our way. Did the media go because they wanted to do Trump’s political diversion work for him? Did they go because they wanted to humanize the individuals? Did they go because there were good visuals, like standing up a rain-slicked weather reporter to shout and gesture at an approaching hurricane? Who knows? They never tell us what the actual story is, because they, or their editors, don’t ask themselves the right question before boarding the plane.

And the question they so often fail to ask is, “Why is this happening?” If they asked, or cared, we might learn something astonishingly important.

Why are all these Hondurans suddenly so desperate that they leave everything behind and set off on a near-hopeless pilgrimage? Did you wonder? Did you hear any explanation? Poverty something something? How about this: Yet one more crisis stoked by, yes, accelerating climate change. Here’s one person who has some insight into it, and predictably, it was all but obliterated as information by more flashy angles. Huh. Just like the coverage of climate-intensified hurricanes, come to think of it.

Farmers on drought-blasted farms were still trying to grow corn, but “the corn cobs tucked inside the husks were small and kernel-less.” Yeah, that will do it. And so they walk. And this is only the beginning. Refugees from ruined agricultural land and the consequent ruined political systems around the globe are the future we are baking for ourselves. (See also climate-change-affected Syria, and the consequences of their refugees on Europe, and the political instability resulting there, and warfare in Syria, with yet more refugees.)

What on earth is wrong with Americans that we can’t see past arguing about the preposterous “solutions” of arming more groups or building a wall to keep the wailing refugees at bay behind a physical barrier? I ask this question with dead seriousness, and with obvious escalating desperation. This is now an acute crisis, knowable, known and playing out over and over right before our eyes. The media won’t cover it as a crisis, the public doesn’t understand it as a crisis, and we won’t act like it’s a crisis. But everybody wants to have a hot opinion about the freaking wall or whether it’s good tactics to pull babies away from their mothers and put them in cages.

Is our capacity to reason finished? Is our ability to act to save home and humanity beyond us? Will future archaeologists (if there are any) examine our mummified skulls and declare that the brains tucked inside the husks were small and kernel-less?