August 12, 1989, SANTA CRUZ, CA. The morning begins like most August mornings here—cool and muffled, the fog a layer of insulation over the town, the horn at the harbor tolling a deep note every ten seconds.
By midday, the fog has lifted and the beaches are filling up. Monterey Bay is flecked with whitecaps and the glint of sun. The temperature will reach 74 degrees today. As my friend says, “Just another day in paradise.” There are about 300 days a year like this.
And to think I was worried about missing the Northeast’s four seasons when I moved out here. I didn’t. Ninety percent of the time the temperature ranged between 55 and 75. There was a rainy season in winter, but it wasn’t impressive. Fog arrived for summer. Fall and Spring were the true showstoppers.
California Dreamin’ indeed.
Now it’s more like California Burnin’. And scorchin’. And dryin’. And floodin’. And stormin’. And everywhere else is too.
I’m back in the Northeast now, and on this August 12 it’s 93 degrees and feels over 100, despite a vicious thunderstorm that just rolled through and cooled off nothing.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, published a climate change report this week that issued a ‘code red’ for humanity, stating that global warming is on the brink of spiraling out of control, and warning the world will inevitably face further climate disruptions for decades or even centuries to come.
The report says there is still the possibility of lessening the impact of climate change, but it will take almost universal resolve and commitment among all developed nations to cut back on the use of fossil fuels starting immediately. Can that happen? It’s hard to make amends unless you first confess to the crime. I don’t see a lot of that happening.
Sure, I’ll do what I can. I’ll drive my hybrid, ride my bike, collect water in my rain barrels, limit my consumption, recycle, compost, vote for any candidate that backs a green agenda, but how can that make a difference? The difference has to be widespread, structural, and systemic. Maybe we can get Marjorie Taylor Greene on board, or the Koch Industries, or Saudi Aramco and Chevron, or my neighbor who drives a Hummer.
Or maybe, hopefully, my kids and others of their generation will do what we have not once we die off and get out of the way. Likely they won’t have much choice if they want to survive.
Santa Cruz is hanging tough. Highs in the 70s this week. But we can’t all move there. I’ll just get down on my knees, and pretend to pray . . . like The Momas & the Poppas.