Onward we wobble
Summertime—and denial is easy. Auntie Ruth goes into denial every June, as if she were a Shasta daisy and kvetching was the bloom, bellowing out loud how she lives in this valley because she loves 105-degree days and how that slight glaze of sweat traced on her just-everywhere is a velvet caress. Y’right. How, for decades, Auntie has been inhaling one of America’s worst air basins, because someday it’ll help her to sing like Marianne Faithfull without ever having smoked a cigarette. Y’right. How she loves the fingernail-dirt gray skies of summer, because the color blue is overrated, cliché, melancholic. Buck up and smell the hazy, lazy fumes of June. July. And the greatest hit on the album, August.
Denial. Love Sacramento all you want, summer is still too hot.
Auntie Ruth’s denial, while whiny, is not catastrophic comparatively. Studies affiliated with Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions surveyed 1,200 Americans and Australians and learned that “those who thought the current day was warmer than usual were more likely to believe in and feel concern about global warming than those who thought the day was unusually cold.” Lead author on the report, Ye Li, noted, “By way of analogy, [such response is like being] asked about the state of the national economy [and looking] at the amount of money in his or her wallet” to draw conclusions.
Depressing? Oh, maybe. Democrats are more likely to believe in human-influenced climate change than Republicans; women are more likely to believe than men; young’uns more likely to believe than geezers. There’s more than a detached attitude to science going on under all that. Al Gore can ring the environmental bell real hard, win a Nobel Prize for it and put his latest book into a groovy iPhone app, and still we’re wetting our finger, holding it up to the wind as if that tells us when the tornado’s gonna hit.
Auntie Ruth dimly suspects such denial may need to be harnessed rather than overcome. Assembly Bill 32 was signed into law on September 27, 2006. The average high in Sacramento for that date is 86 degrees. Could any governor have signed this bill in February, or was there an intuitive sense that the politics of climate change is best strategized as fair-weather sport?
Onward we wobble into the uncertain future. Kvetching will be required.