Leonard Pitts Jr.: The year (bleep) got real

But there may also be reason to hope it might also go down as The Year (Bleep) Got Saved.

A boat that sank in Lake Mead is left embedded in the dry lake bed.
Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS
We are part of The Trust Project.

"There's a choice we're making. We're saving our own lives." -- from "We Are The World"

Yes, this is early.

Also Read
A pardon, of course, must be contingent on Trump publicly accepting the results of the 2020 election and assuming responsibility for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
So, dare we hope their victory has meaning? Well, that depends on where we go from here.

That ritual where the columnist assigns the year a theme doesn't usually begin until December. But the view from this pew is that, where 2022 is concerned, said theme is already clear.

In recent days, this has begun to feel very much like The Year (Bleep) Got Real.


Sixteen years after Al Gore implored us to face "An Inconvenient Truth" and we didn't, we have seen climate change mutate from a seemingly abstract threat against a theoretical future to a series of unsettling headlines charting an immediate crisis -- a right here, right now danger -- facing all 8 billion passengers on this spaceship. International weather maps over the past two weeks looked like the Shenandoah Valley in October -- a vista of deep reds and golds signifying blazing heat pretty much everywhere. Great Britain -- cool, damp Britain -- sweltered through its hottest day, ever, triple digits Fahrenheit. Meantime, wildfires have blackened great swaths of Spain, Italy, Portugal and France.

Closer to home, the Colorado River, the artery of water that makes Los Angeles possible, has gone saltine dry. The Great Salt Lake is vanishing, two-thirds of it gone and still shrinking. California is burning -- again. The cascade effect of all this, the impact on human and animal migration, on the extinction of bugs, birds and beasts, on weather patterns, on the economy, on air quality, on the habitability of the planet, cannot be overstated.

But if 2022 is, indeed, The Year (Bleep) Got Real, last week gave us reason to hope it might also go down as The Year (Bleep) Got Saved.

Senate Democrats agreed to a $369 billion bill that is being called the nation's most ambitious effort yet to combat climate change. It includes tax incentives to encourage the development of alternative energy sources, the purchase of electric vehicles, the retrofitting of homes. With this measure, which the Senate could pass within days, the country might, by the end of this decade, cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 40 percent less than their 2005 levels. And here is the most startling sentence you'll read all day:

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin deserves a lot of credit.

The West Virginia lawmaker, famously at odds with his party on many of its legislative priorities, had balked at supporting this one, too. In that, he was a doppelganger of Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham who feels that, while climate change is scary, it's not as scary as a bear market or bad jobs numbers. Graham recently huffed that, "I don't want to be lectured about what we need to do to destroy our economy in the name of climate change."

Never mind that the end of the world would also be pretty bad for business. In fact, never mind Lindsey Graham, because Manchin had an 11th-hour change of heart, positioning the United States to vault from climate laggard to climate leader, as it should have been all along.

This is the most important story in the world because it is the world. None of the other things that gobble our attention -- Donald Trump, abortion rights, gun violence -- matter as much as the inarguable fact that this planet is rapidly growing inhospitable to human life. That grim truth has hit like a hammer in recent days. Now, perhaps, we get to hit back.


It is not that those other things don't matter. But worrying about them presupposes a future.

Last week offers hope that we may still have one.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may contact him via e-mail at

©2021 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

What to read next
For 38 years, I have been in child care in one way or another — as a mother, teacher, advocate, director and grandmother. I am currently the director at Civic League Day Nursery in Rochester. We opened our doors in 1930 as a woman-led, pioneering effort to bring quality care to children of working parents. And we’ve been doing just that for 91 years.
Ditterich Mercantile recently opened to fill a need for a grocery store in Vergas, Minnesota. It's an example of community innovation and passion.
Editor's note: Clarence Page is off this week. Robert C. Koehler is writing in his place.
A summer trip offered a much greater appreciation of the vastness of God’s creation on earth, while also putting things into perspective.