Back in the middle of December, my little town here in California had an amazing storm. In a couple of days, we got roughly twice as much rain as we normally do for the whole month. And then January came: no rain the entire month. Normal rainfall for that month is six inches. In February, we got about half the normal five inches. And in March, when we normally get about three and a half inches, we again got no rain at all. None of this is surprising. It’s been going on for years. The idea of “normal rainfall” is now just a sick joke.
So when Jerry Brown stood in the snowless Sierra Nevada to announce a 25% decrease in water use, I was pleased. For years, I’ve been hammering the point that global warming is primarily dangerous because of what it would do to rainfall. And what it does is increase it. The problem is that it changes the rainfall patterns so that we get a net decrease in rainfall over land where we need it. A fellow graduate student when I was in school did a century long correlation between rainfall and temperature and he found that everywhere in the United States other than the northeast the correlation was negative. That is: as it gets hotter, it gets drier. And that’s especially true in places like California and Texas.
I used to take a certain amount of solace from the fact that eventually those evil people who had been denying climate change would be forced to admit that, yes, in fact, they had been wrong. But I was wrong. If George Will and James Inhofe are denying it now, they will always deny it. Like most of the denial community, they are both old. By the time it gets really bad — when California is a ghost state — they will be dead. And I doubt it will matter to them that they left a far worse world for their kids. They left their kids in the hands of God, and God showed his usual level of care for human misery.
The great innovation of American business over the last forty years has been the three month time horizon. The question for the average CEO is not, “What is best for my business over the long term?” It is rather, “What is best for my next quarter bonus?” Given that we’ve allowed the United States to be taken over by the power elite of the business world, it is no surprise that the government now works the same way. What is the long term health of the people of the nation — much less the world — compared to next quarter’s bonus? We know the answer: not a damned thing.
The good news is that as the United States becomes a desiccated shell where nothing grows, Canada looks to become far more productive. If I were in charge of Canada, I would start a massive military buildup. Because you know, the United States isn’t going to sit idly by as its rich suffer, when it has spent all these years consuming 48% of the world’s military expenditures. The US will go to war with Canada under one pretext or another. But what does it matter to me? I’ll be dead. And why should I care about future generations when George Will, James Inhofe, and the whole of the Republican Party doesn’t care? Anyway: we can all drink “freedom.”