It's getting a bit creepy how easily and casually we are all starting to joke about global climate change.
It's not coming, it's here. My brother is framing houses in a T-shirt in upstate New York. And it's so cold in California that the citrus crop is ruined. The other day one of my colleagues mentioned that global warming might not make every place warmer; "it's just going to kill us all."
Maybe it will.
One of the most chilling (sorry) depictions of what's about to happen comes not from Al Gore's movie (which was powerful) but from a book called A Friend of the Earth, which is a pretty bad novel by a very good writer, T.C. Boyle. The story line is weak, but the scene Santa Inez in 2025 has a strange air of realism. It's almost impossible to live there in Boyle's future; the storms are so regular and fierce that only specially constructed homes can survive them, and almost nobody spends much time outdoors.
I have a friend who's a very, very successful investment adviser, a self-made millionaire several times over, who has been living a dream of a life in Boca Raton, Fla., diving and spearfishing and cruising around on his yacht ... and he just sold his place and bought a dirt farm in Kentucky. Florida is going to be wiped out by the hurricanes, he says. He's also shut down a lot of his business, since he thinks the US economy is going to completely tank soon. He wants to be someplace where he can grow his own food.
I think this is crazy. I've never been into doomsday. I have two kids, which by itself is an act of optimism and hope. As we say in my family (which has elevated the art of denial to world-class levels), everything is going to be just fine.
So I laugh about the weather like everyone else. I live way up on a hill; if the ice melts and the sea rises all the way to my doorstep, it will be time to buy an ark. I've always been into boats anyway.
But right now it really feels like this is coming at us a lot faster than anyone expected. And the much-heralded moves by the governor of California to reduce greenhouse gases a little bit by a few years from now seem so incredibly puny.
In politics I've always felt that intent matters. There are some wonderful programs that don't work as well as they should, not because of corruption but because the money is inadequate or the staff isn't properly trained or somebody made some mistakes. That's different from somebody deliberately lying, cheating, and stealing to game the system.
Pacific Gas and Electric Corp. is a corrupt institution with sleazy lawyers and consultants who abuse the local political system. Carolyn Knee, who was the treasurer for a group fighting on behalf of a ballot campaign for public power in 2002, is a good person who apparently made some mistakes in the complex process of filing all the campaign finance documents on a volunteer basis for a grassroots initiative. And she just told me the SF Ethics Commission wants to fine her $26,700.
There's something very wrong here. *