Backlash days

It’s up to you!

It’s up to you!

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

The backlash against climate change is, of course, well underway. Lately, the target has shifted to the brethren of California’s own Assembly Bill 32, our state law seeking to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Take ReGGIe, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Ten northeastern states from Maine to Delaware came together in 2008 and launched a carbon-trading program for power plants, setting up a marketplace that allows the purchase and sale of emission credits. New Jersey is pulling out, and three other states—New Hampshire, Maine and Delaware—have conservative legislators riffing for the same. To date they are unsuccessful. Driving it is Americans for Prosperity, a pro-corporate group with strong ties to tea-party funder Koch Industries.

And then there are the Australian scientists, working up a tax on carbon emissions. Grist notes that “More than 30 researchers told the Canberra Times that they have received emails ‘threatening violence, sexual assault, public smear campaigns and attacks on family members.’”

The stakes are high, kids. High and growing higher. A.B. 32 is essential and it isn’t over yet, not by the longest shot. And when people are dealing with death threats and pioneering legislation is being reversed, well, the backlash is underway.

This is California. We’re liberal, mostly, and sun-baked. Reported in the mainstream press as eccentric but generally mellow. We take so much in stride. Subject to that occasional impressive burst of overachievement that inspires smart people from Cleveland or India to move here. We have a governor whose trajectory seems peculiarly Californian—if once he was Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown is now the shrewd statesman wrestling the rudder this way and that, trying to right the sinking ship. You would think the political argument—“our beloved state has evolved into ungovernability, we’re all going into the drink, many of us will drown”—might appeal on some base level but hey, this is California.

Is A.B. 32 next? With no crystal ball handy, Ruth couldn’t say. But if it is, we’re gonna have to fight like hell.

Still, it gets down to you doing the recycling. You doing the simple things to save energy during the heat of summer. You driving less because you plan more. Yeah, you. Keep up the good work, no matter the fuss. Because in times of backlash, it’s gonna get weird.