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California Burning

Fire Report as of Monday afternoon, July 30, 2018.

California is disappearing in smoke and flames.  Global warming sits on us like a smothering blanket.  Out my window I see two fires and there are at least seven ongoing fires in the state.  Triple digit heat is unrelenting.  Leaves are falling from the trees ahead of schedule as a result of a six-year drought with only one year of significant rainfall.

Above, right over my house helicopters sound like tanks rumbling on some stairway to heaven.  They pick up buckets of water from irrigation ponds and drop buckets full of water on a fire that is at least 6,000 (now 12,000) acres with very little containment.  Compared to the amount of burning acreage the helicopters seem like noisy little mosquitoes.  We really need several firefighting 747’s to put out the two fires.

The state has two such firefighters but they are likely deployed to Redding, a city of 40,000 situated at the head of the Central Valley, where the summer’s triple digit heat accumulates and mixes with  strong winds to produce what one scientist likens to a microwave oven, or a blast furnace to my thinking.

This hell is California’s foreseeable future.

We were warned.  Science nerds and policy wonks knew what was coming.  They tried to come to agreement for all of us.  Out of a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 came the Kyoto Protocol, under which countries agreed to separately determine targets to reduce greenhouse gases.  That was all the best minds could do, human nature being what it is.  So what if global warming was global?  Apparently, the people running the US and some other governments could not conceive of the global nature of the problem, nor the corresponding need for a global solution.

Even if the Kyoto Protocol had been based on a realistic appraisal of the situation, the US Senate would never ratify it anyway.  It’s puny targets were never adopted because the US was unhappy about the fact that third-world countries were not made to share the pain;  instead, they were to be compensated for all the years of exploitation by rich countries.

Ordinary citizens and politicians alike got another chance to understand what was at stake when, in 2006, Al Gore explained the science behind global warming so that all of us could understand it.  He made it easy in the Oscar-winning  documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Again we rejected the science and the truth.

In 2009 President Barack and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton negotiated the United States into the much-ballyhooed Paris Climate Accord.  Every country in the world would be signing off the same sheet of music—at least until President Trump decided it “wasn’t good for the United States.”  No climate agreement ever “could be good for the United States”; that’s the point.  World-wide climate agreements are good for the world.  They offer a way for humans to save themselves.

So, the real inconvenient truth turns out to be that we are too stupid to save ourselves.

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