THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN I am a 56-year-old baby boomer, and looking around today its very clear that my generation had it easy: We grew up in the shadow of just one bomb - the nuclear bomb. That is, in our day, it seemed as if there was just one big threat that could trigger a non-linear, 180-degree, change in the trajectory of our lives: the Soviets hitting us with a nuke. My girls are not so lucky. Todays youth are growing up in the shadow of three bombs - any one of which could go off at any time and set in motion a truly non-linear, radical change in the trajectory of their lives. The first, of course, is still the nuclear threat, which, for my generation, basically came from just one seemingly rational enemy, the Soviet Union, with which we shared a doctrine of mutual assured destruction. Today, the nuclear threat can be delivered by all kinds of states or terrorist. But there are now two other bombs our children have hanging over them: the debt bomb and the climate bomb. As we continue to build up carbon in the atmosphere to unprecedented levels, we never know when the next emitted carbon molecule will tip over some ecosystem and trigger a non-linear climate event. And when one ecosystem collapses, it can trigger unpredictable changes in others that could alter our whole world. The same is true with Americas debt bomb. To recover from the Great Recession, weve had to go even deeper into debt. One need only look at todays record-setting price of gold, in a period of deflation, to know that a lot of people are worried that our next dollar of debt - unbalanced by spending cuts or new tax revenues - will trigger a non-linear move out of the dollar and torpedo the US currency. If people lose confidence in the dollar, we could enter a feedback loop, as with the climate, whereby the sinking dollar forces up interest rates, which raises the long-term cost of servicing our already massive debt, which adds to the deficit projections, which further undermines the dollar. If the world is unwilling to finance our deficits, except at much higher rates of interest, it would surely diminish our governments ability to make public investments and just as surely diminish our childrens standard of living. Unfortunately, too many conservatives, who would never risk emitting so much debt that it would tank the dollar, will blithely tell you on carbon: Emit all you want. Dont worry. Its all a hoax. And too many liberals, who would never risk emitting too much carbon, will tell you on emitting more debt: Spend away. Weve got plenty of room to stimulate without risking the dollar. Because of this divide, our government has not been able to put in place the long-term policies needed to guard against detonating our mounting debt bomb and climate bomb. As such, were in effect putting our kids future in the hands of the two most merciless forces on the planet: the Market and Mother Nature. This moment reminds me of an image John Holdren, the presidents science adviser, uses when discussing the threat of climate change, but it also applies to the dollar: Were driving in a car with bad brakes in a fog and heading for a cliff. We know for sure that cliff is out there. We just dont know exactly where it is. Prudence would suggest that we should start putting on the brakes. - The Seattle Times