For The Rain It Raineth

Rain Clouds Approaching

There’s a storm coming.

The rainclouds are gathering and the word on the wire is to batten down the hatches and prepare for four days of deluge.

Here in NorCal, we couldn’t be happier.

I know in many areas of the country a warning of four days of rain will bring reactions ranging from ho-hum what else is new to not again make it stop. But here it only elicits smiles, happiness, and even a little dancing in the streets.

You always welcome that which you haven’t seen in so long.

And we haven’t seen significant rain for several years now. In the midst of pandemic, social upheaval, elections and claims of election fraud, through the Trump years and into the Biden years, the one constant has been that we have not had rain. Reservoirs are at lows never seen before. Lake Tahoe’s water level is so low boats are marooned in mud while algae rots their hulls. Trees are dying at such a rapid rate they can’t be chopped down fast enough to prevent them from becoming fuel for this week’s wildfire.

In fact wildfires have become so common now we’ve taken to naming them just like hurricanes. If only the hurricanes and the wildfires were just baseball team names. On a recent wine tour, the bus driver and I got into an argument over which fire caused the damage we were driving our group through. So many of them we can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

One of the big promises of this weather system is that there will be enough rain to put out all fires on the west coast. Now that’s the kind of rain I can get behind. We’re even ready for the probability of mudslides. During the drought California has been diligently shoring up problematic landscapes, especially the ones alongside our major highways. What can I say, we think ahead. Not all of the projects have been finished, but enough so that it appears (hopefully) when the rains come this week we will not have traded one problem for another.

So we have rain coming and the possibility that all wildfires will be put out. All is rosy once again in the Golden State.

Eh, no.

You see, we here in the land of baseball playoff games beginning in twilight like to be proactive about problems. We try to face them head on instead of running and hiding and hoping someone, anyone, else will fix them. That’s why we elect Democrats to leadership roles both in the state and in Congress. We also believe in science and in the scientists who actually do the science. Had we not the death rate from COVID would have been in the millions. At last check we were holding at 7 deaths per 100,000. Compare that with Louisiana where the rate is 17 per 100,000 or West Virginia where it’s 42 per 100,000.

And it’s that belief in science, in that refusal to allow politicians and media outlets to “but on the other hand” us that gives rise to our current concern over climate change. We understand that one state can’t stop climate change. The weather doesn’t recognize political boundaries, only people do.

And lately people have been disappointing us left and right.

We haven’t come to the climate change challenge as a Johnny come lately. Decades ago, when Johnny Carson would make nightly jokes about the quality of the air in beautiful downtown Burbank, the state forced oil companies to make a special lower pollutant emitting gas formulation. The oil companies should have taken that as a challenge to change the way they formulate ALL gasoline for the country. Instead they only changed the formulation for California which meant they charged more for gas here. When visitors gasp at the sight of $4.50 per gallon regular they immediately blame the taxes on the gas. In fact while we do have lots of taxes on gas, the total tax bill for a gallon is about the same as most of the rest of the country. The higher price is because the gas companies claim the special formulation means they “have” to charge more for the fuel.

But when was the last time you heard a late night host make jokes about the quality of the air in the Los Angeles Basin?

So we here in the Land of Dreams know about forcing those who cause pollution to own it and make changes to lessen it’s effect. When we say it needs to be done, the rest of the country, hell, the rest of the world needs to listen. And right now our cry is for the country to stop moaning about the “costs” of going green and instead start making the necessary changes to stop global warming, cool down the planet, stop the icecaps from melting, stop “once in a century” floods, hurricanes, wildfires, etc from happening every other year, and prevent the human race from going the way of the dinosaurs.

I know it always stuns people to hear that the number one industry in California isn’t tech or the movies, but rather agriculture. It also stuns them to hear that we produce nearly 15% of all the food the United States consumes. That’s more than the next two states, Texas and Iowa, combined. Well if you don’t have rain you don’t have agriculture. I think if you asked the average American if they had to chose between their gas guzzling SUV and having food to eat they just might chose having a full belly. We are rapidly approaching having to make that choice.

Here in the Land of Disruption, we aren’t afraid of creating new industries. So coal mining has to go into the dustbin of history. OK West Virginia, how about you start becoming the solar panel manufacturing capital of the world? And Louisiana, I know you make a lot of money off off shore oil rigs, but how about taking the money that is literally being thrown down a hole in the ocean and use it to make newer more powerful electric batteries. If General Motors can commit to becoming all electric in less than a decade, how about the rest of the automobile industry make that same commitment? I have never understood the political stance that says we can’t afford to create new industries because we have to protect the old ones. No one ever told Henry Ford to stop making cars because blacksmiths were being put out of business.

You know what it’s going to take to make those kinds of changes happen? Will power. Particularly the will power of those who currently have the power. That means you Senator Manchin. You are so in love with coal, but it’s like being in love with buggy whips. Coal is the past, a bit of history we teach our youngsters. And I know you and those who put you in power are heavily invested in coal, but maybe it’s time for you to leave the coal and take the solar. Senator, you have the opportunity to go down in the history books as “the man who saw the future” and told his coal buddies to get with the new program. If instead you opt to continue your intransigence and prevent the climate bill from being enacted, well I guess you won’t be in the history books.

Because no one will be alive to write them.

And now, straight from Gerde’s Folk City down in the Greenwich Village here’s a young man who might go places one day, singing about the thunder that roared out a warning…

Shapiro Out




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