This week began with Americans setting aside differences of which way they lean to look to the skies. In case you were under a rock, you knew that the great American solar eclipse took astronomy geeks, and those just interested in a rare phenomenon, by storm.
I remembered the solar eclipse of the late-’70s and was quite interested, probably mostly because we were able to escape from class to attend the viewing “party” out on the school’s tennis courts. This time around, I really wasn’t that interested in viewing, especially since the home turf was not in the prime viewing path, and I didn’t feel the urge to travel hours to sit in a pasture to possibly have the weather block out the prime view anyway.
As luck would have it, there was no chance to glimpse even a part of the solar eclipse in my area because a thunderstorm decided to reign during the duration of the eclipse. Those who were in the areas of prime eclipse path were treated to a spectacle that hadn’t happened in the United States since 1979 and won’t happen again until April of 2024.
If travel or residence didn’t put you in the viewing gallery, or if you didn’t want to risk harming your eyes by viewing it in person, you could have joined the millions upon millions to log on to NASA.gov or Eclipse2017.NASA.gov. NASA officials claim there were more than 90 million page views on those two websites, and that they reached more than 3.6 billion non-unique users surrounding the eclipse.
NASA also estimates that its live eclipse webcast on Aug. 21 got more than 40 million views.
Those are some “huge” numbers, as our Commander in Tweets would say. Just imagine what numbers like that could do for a good cause, such as convincing the Trump administration, or Mr. Trump himself, that it is important for the United States to remain an active participant in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Renegotiation talks have begun, and Trump has again threatened to pull out of NAFTA altogether. Under NAFTA U.S. agricultural exports have grown from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion last year. Those are also some huge numbers; huge numbers that would be very difficult to make up elsewhere.
Huge numbers of people also need to jump on the bandwagon, joining the National Pork Producers Council, urging the Trump administration to pursue trade talks with Japan, which has been the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market. Japan and the United States were supposed to be closer trade partners under the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Trump followed through on his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the TPP. TPP now proceeds with 11 member nations. Bilateral pacts with countries such as Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines would greatly benefit all of U.S. exports, not just the pork industry, but we need to act fast.
Japan and the European Union recently struck up a trade deal, and that could put U.S. exporters at a competitive disadvantage.
If we can get huge numbers of people to band together in the event of a natural phenomenon, just imagine how impactful it would be to the U.S. economy and the pork industry if we could band together for something of real consequences.
But there I go again, with my head in the clouds and stargazing.