Billions are projected to suffer nearly unlivable heat by the year 2070, according to a recent article in the Yakima Herald-Republic. Each year the planet gets hotter. The oceans are rising, becoming more acidic and quickly becoming overfished. Weather patterns are rapidly changing and storms are becoming more violent. The permafrost is melting and methane is being released. Drought is increasing and the world’s food supply is threatened. Mass migration is on the rise.

On the basis of my experience and inquiry, my opinion is there may be no more than 2 billion of us left by 2070. If human consciousness does not evolve quickly, there is little hope for coming generations.

The world’s economy is in tatters. Ninety percent of the world’s wealth is held by fewer than 10%, while 55% of the households in the richest nation on the planet cannot meet a $1,000 emergency. More than 28 million in the U.S. have no health insurance.

The world’s military budget is approaching $2 trillion a year. The U.S. spends more than the next eight biggest spenders. This year’s military appropriation in the U.S. is $740 billion and the military-industrial complex wants billions more to further expand our nuclear capability.

War should become obsolete. Billions of people are suffering because we have not found a way to redirect the world’s treasure for compassionate, humane and intelligent causes. We must set up a cabinet level Department of Peace.

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely be contained in the near future. COVID-19 is a bump in the road compared to climate change. There are no vaccines to reverse the course of climate change. We cannot change course by flipping a switch. CO2 stays in the atmosphere 40 to 50 years.

We need bold solutions for the economy and the environment. I would like to electrify your imagination with an idea that never really got off the ground in 2008. It was called “Cash for Clunkers.” There are well over 200 million cars in the U.S. Most of these vehicles have internal combustion engines that produce CO2. Now more than ever people need cash to survive, and we must move at warp speed to buy back as many clunkers as we can. Putting billions of dollars into the hands of consumers would benefit our economy and the environment.

Moving transportation toward electrification could create millions of jobs, benefit our economy and slow greenhouse gases. If we invested a mere $50 billion, perhaps we could take 10 million vehicles out of circulation and slow greenhouse gases.

Each state or region could set up recycling centers, creating eco-friendly jobs for disassembling and recycling.

A profound thinker by the name of Pogo said it succinctly: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Do we really want to go back to the old insane normal?

Ed Patton lives in Yakima.