Click here to see what’s been happening to the temperature where you live. And remember that 1 degree Celsius is nearly two degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, it’s not the heat we should be worried about — I like warm weather. And I have an air conditioner.
The problem is that we may be destabilizing the climate in catastrophic ways. Of course, that could happen anyway, if a comet hits us or enough volcanoes erupt at the same time (or the wrong butterfly flaps its wings?) — Mars once had water, and it was probably not the short-sightedness of some intelligent life form that rendered it dry. But just because there are things we can’t control doesn’t justify, it seems to me, failing to confront things we can.
And so many of them are so simple! Changing from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, turning them off when you’re not in the room, and weatherizing your home, for the many who haven’t already done it (I know YOU have) can cut energy use significantly. And where’s the sacrifice? It just makes you more prosperous by saving you money and more snug by eliminating drafts. Rich and snug: why is that awful? Or Marxist?
It’s certainly easier than moving all our coastal cities inland. And easier than dealing with monster storms or mega droughts and fires. (Apparently, we may not have seen anything yet — and we’ve already seen too much.)
The good news is that the President has made climate change a priority — and even when that priority was less visible than now, the Administration had been moving forward — doubling the CAFE standard, among other things. According to New Scientist, here, “What’s … surprising is that the US – historically, the world’s biggest emitter – actually seems to be walking the walk. It is on track to meet Obama’s 2009 pledge to cut US emissions by 17 per cent, from 2005 levels, by 2020. The target could even be exceeded, which may give a boost to the long-stalled international climate talks.”
But the bad news, as Rachel informed us last night, is that the Republicans put people like Representative Paul Broun of Georgia, who doesn’t believe in evolution or climate change . . . which is to say he doesn’t believe in science . . . on the House Science Committee. (The good news is that it appears he will run for the Senate in 2014, which could get him off the House Science Committee and, conceivably, toss retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss’s Senate seat to a Democrat who does “believe in” science.)
So the Justice Department is — finally — massively suing one of the rating agencies. Like everyone else, I’m wondering: what took so long? And how about the others? But like everyone else I’m also thinking: better late than never. And like most people, I’m thinking: listen, you have to start going after executives, not just corporations. Yes, we know it is much harder to make criminal cases. And of course they should never be initiated frivolously. But where an executive appears to have been party to fraud, or to have been criminally negligent, indictments should be sought. Without pursuing individuals, there is little or no deterrent effect. The good news is that, even if, at the end of the day, a jury fails to convict, there is still deterrent effect. No CEO relishes the prospect of being indicted. The contrast with the indictments brought after the Savings & Loan crisis in the Eighties is striking — and laid out by Professor William Black, who was in the thick of it back then, here.
Joel Grow: “If you’ve ever read Cannery Row, you cannot have failed to love the character of Doc. Steinbeck based Doc on his good friend Ed Ricketts and, after Ricketts’ death, wrote a wonderful homage I found at the beginning of Log from the Sea of Cortez, used there as a kind of introduction. I’d forgotten about this little tribute to his pal until reading your column yesterday, but it’s worth seeking out, as is Cannery Row, if you don’t know it. I think I’ve read everything of his that is currently published. I re-read it all regularly, especially Cannery Row and The Grapes of Wrath. There’s such humanity and spirit and…nobility in his writing! Thanks for reminding me.”