Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How's the Weather?

Summer is kicking in with a blast in LA, after a cool spring that didn't bring much rain (again). It's noticeable in wide flunctuations of temperature, as well as some new temperature records. It's also evident in gardens and parks, where blight and fungal infections are on the rise as heat and humidity hit the water-stressed landscape. Oaks dying of fungus, azaleas disintegrating, foliage turning black from root rot, landscapes drying out - sycamores dying of thirst - and becoming infested with more insect pests that were once held at bay. Not a pretty picture. At least we don't have the massive flooding seen on the east coast and midwest, but we seem to be heading for the opposite extreme, per the Global Climate Change Impacts report released on June 16. This will trigger changes in the debate in this country about the actual impacts of global warming, and how to plan for future infrastructure by not propping up the old systems, but adapting them to new realities.

Since it's critical to get it right this time, the impacts of all human activities must necessarily be considered in this new future we now have. If the financial meltdown of the last year has taught us anything, it's that the consequences of not accounting for the actual impacts of things will absolutely lead to collapse. Thomas Freidman wrote an article emphasizing that on March 31.

There's a hope that some of the efforts coalescing in the Los Angeles area for sustainability, such as the LA River restoration, water conservation and reconstruction of wetlands and aquifers, LA City green building initiatives, cleaning up the port pollution, reclamation of industrial sites, etc. will begin to reverse the damage of miles of asphalt, urban sprawl and destruction of the natural landscape.

However, LA doesn't hold a candle to San Francisco and the Bay area, which is showing tremendous leadership in this area. Mayor Gavin Newsom is out in front with it, and it will probably pay off for him in the future Governor's race. It's tremendously encouraging to see the change in the dialoge, both locally and nationally, after the belligerence of the Bush years on environmental issues in order to protect private profits for the corporations.

A major shift in US values is necessary to accomplish this, and an approach to this new kind of thinking and economics can be found in Riane Eisler's book, "The Real Wealth of Nations". She proposes a complete system of accountability in all sectors of the real world, including people and community as well as the environmental issues, rather than rewarding destructive growth practices.