The Climate Emperor’s New Clothes
How we’re happy to pretend everything’s fine
A friend commented on this video as we’re all watching news of sink holes gobbling cars like a scene from Tremors, Oroville being evacuated impulsively and poorly as the upstream dam spillway crumbles under overflowing max capacity, and northern California eats a fire hose of rain, again. No mention of the record Sierra snow pack. Noted only by my friends in Tahoe, their 12 year old daughter’s adorable reports from her completely socked in open garage door providing my only point of reference. The run off of which in spring will overwhelm our duck taped levy and dam system in 3 months. The 30 national weather records of the day casually footnoted by your favorite smiling weather person. His response to this crumbling street scene was to list several soil and road maintenance tests that should’ve been happening and, “Where are my tax dollars going?”
You’d have to wrap your head around an era when America was Democratic Socialist to grasp the snapshot of this video. All the infrastructure we take for granted now was built when our taxes were universally higher. Roads, bridges, electrical grid, plumbing, drainage, sewage, hospitals, libraries, fire, police, levy systems plus thousands of other pieces of living and all the checks and balances in place to maintain them. We were all in it. We all built it. We accepted that sacrifice. One of the rare times you’ll ever find me harkening back to “the good old days” is post World War Two America’s sweet spot of understanding the compact between government, industry and citizenry. The three kept each other honest.
In the 1980’s various tax revolutions took those funds away and started the age of privatization. “The free market would be self correcting!” they said. “Government is the enemy!” they said. “Job creators would save us all!” they said. It felt pretty good for awhile, like that stretch just after you quit taking your meds and are amazed at how good you feel. “SEE! They were holding me down!” and just like the person rejecting what worked pretty well but made me fat, we had about a 30 year grace period where infrastructure kept plugging along invisibly while nouveau Republicans and fancied Libertarians created industry, ranting that "I built this!"
Well, not really Clem.
Now we’re finally getting a taste of the reality of what it takes to run a functional society - by being ill prepared, and unfortunately with a national psyche that is two generations removed from the concept of working together toward anything that doesn’t provide instant gratification. It made me sad to listen to the rhetoric during the last election that scoffed that Bernie Sanders’ platform was a pipe dream. With a couple of notable exceptions he was running on the very social contract that actually made us the world’s powerhouse.
We are headed into a period in earth history where Mother Nature has been poisoned into neurotic, raging mania. This is just the very tip of what’s ahead and we’ve been trained to pay no attention to it except to feel inconvenienced. We don’t even understand we’re in a world of shit.
Personally I am researching climate trends and assessing regional stabilities and projections for the next 40 years. (The Northwest’s high coasts and ocean temperature push back, Canada, and northern plains states appear to be good bets) It’s a moving target as caps melt exponentially faster than expected, removing even more of the snow’s reflection of the sun. This balance of radiation and absorption is now irreparably tilted against white reflecting heat. This in turn changes every other relational dynamic which changes the parameters you can use as a baseline. You know what I watch on the news about this shift? I can now book a cruise for $25,000 over the Northern Passage three months a year.
I likely wont be there to reap the world I’ve sewn but my family will. It’s my duty to provide them the best odds of a decent life as we start the transition from a classic fable about accepting reality and people’s hostile reaction to it being pointed out (for which President Trump paints the perfect naked, bloated, King) to the bad sci-fi channel post apocalyptic drama you and I are leaving them. My kids didnt build this. But they’re about to live in it.