All-State Insurance Company will no longer insure homes in California due to risk of wildfire and high cost of reconstruction. One sure thing Californian residents all understand is our state no longer can count on historically normal weather events. After two decades of lower-than-normal rainfall this year the Pacific winter storms unleashed record breaking storms on the state. When LA gets more rain that Seattle over the course of one winter you know you’ve entered some kind of portal of climate induced change.
In my neighborhood trees and fences were toppled in this year’s fierce windstorms. When the wind wasn’t blowing the streets and fields were flooding. Typically, mild temperatures this winter instead were decidedly cooler. The snowpack is melting, rivers are swelling, and there is still the threat of flooding along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.
Up and down the state the powerful rain and waves have undermined the hillsides, homes in San Clemente have been lost, railway tracks have been blocked by landslides, the sudden unforeseen repair costs to the streets in Santa Cruz’s Sea Cliff district are swamping the city’s budget.
NOAA is forecasting El Nino to be arriving this summer. Record heatwave events followed by wildfires have the state’s firefighters on high alert. Then, as our climate has grown slightly warmer and drier there is now a slightly higher incidence of lightening and with it the risk of fire.
The current forecast has almost a one foot rise in the sea level, this makes reports coming from Greenland and Antarctica seem all the more worrisome. Between coastal erosion risks and the nearby forested mountain wildfire risks it makes a California citizen wonder where in the world should they go—
And it is this damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation that makes for what I think could be a very compelling comedy. A good plot will have your characters trapped between a rock and a hard place— two equally bad alternatives.
You could do it tragically but what’s the point, we already know what that looks like. What we don’t often see is how a character rises to the challenge, there’s no prevailing over circumstances so much as coping with them.
Most of us put the mess out of our mind. That’s one way to do it. Another is to become an active participant in the crisis, to start doing what you can. Clear brush around your home, drive a little less, choose fire resistant native trees when you landscape, forget all about living in that dream home overlooking the Pacific.
We’re all busy recycling, composting food scraps, installing drip irrigation, charging our new electric cars, and recaulking our double glazed energy efficient windows.
On a personal level you want to be sure to protect yourself, I’ve suddenly become aware of these high performance ultraviolet light blocking hoodies. The name of this game is thin breathable fabric, a hoodie for hot sunny days, one that shields the top of your head and in some styles also comes with a protective face cover. This is next level protective survival gear.
Our nearest reservoirs are full to the brim. Our hillsides are slathered in wildflowers. There is so much to be thankful for, our winter rains have pulled most of California back from the brink.
One might think that the energy transition, as the decarbonizing of our economy continues, that what we want to do is not just do more but do more faster, the sooner the better. A nasty feature of capitalism is that the old energy system is still in place, still resisting calls for the transition, still doing everything in its power to slow the changes and when they can halt them completely. Precious time and money are wasted. Capitalism has a number of flaws and none is more confounding than their well-funded ability to resist needed change.
That isn’t funny, but a character trapped between this tightest climate corner modern man has ever faced does offer us a chance to laugh at ourselves as we rise to the challenge. I’m not quite finished with my current manuscript, The Last Drop, I’m busy beginning to outline a new plot that involves this California coastal resident living on the delicate ocean overlook as these common forces all of us are attempting to cope with begins to undo and alter the bucolic Saturday garden party and barbecue life they have spent their long life paying for and dreaming about.
I’m a huge fan of nightclub settings, Casablanca, Cotton Club and my favorite of favorites Victor Victoria provide a plotter many opportunities to move a cast of stressed characters in and out of a story. I will turn my attention to these films, study them closely, outline their plotting, compare mine to these classics, and spend the next few months plotting until the plan is complete and writing may commence.
Now onto Sunday’s adventures in gardening—