June 15, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Big Picture Thinking With Our New Friend, Climate Change:

In my unproduced screenplay, “Jeepers, It’s Hot!”, an everyman played by George Clooney turns on his TV set to see what the weather man has to say about exactly when the heat wave will be over. Maybe in a day or so? Maybe by the weekend? Instead, the meteorologist (Jim Parsons as Fritz Coleman) gazes unflinchingly into the camera and intones, “We’re in for at least 25 more years of these record temps before it cools down. Of course by then, most of the life on this planet will have expired. Now, here’s Fred with a look at sports…”

Global warming is not being perceived the same as Godzilla or even bird flu. Somehow, our lethargy in paying attention to it in previous decades has evolved into a level of acceptance: Three digit temperatures and droughts and record numbers of tornadoes and hurricanes and shrink- ing glaciers and rising shore lines are being adapted to. And with those adjustments comes what feels like a tacit understanding: All these undeniable signs of global warming are irksome and destroy property and limit water and make us sticky and hot … but they are otherwise benign.

I’m talking about an integration of global warming into everyday life, not the battle between science fact and political nincompoop denial. Following a two week cycle of national engagement with an unhappy thrice-divorced county clerk who claims to be defending God’s law, we’re going to have to finally admit that what pulls us into these “culture wars” is our appetite for fresh entertain- ment, with a soupcon of righteous indignation as a side dish.

As a result of the exploitation of “issues” and “controversy” as fresh content for our amusement, citizens are becoming completely small picture. If there were a weekly TV series called “That Was Fun!” that reminded us of events that commandeered our focus and emotion for 15 minutes at a time, a recent episode might have included Caitlin Jennings, any shooter in a mass murder, Octo- Mom, Sarah Palin, various missing blond-haired white children… you get the idea.

Having lost the ability to work not only ‘big- picture’ but long-term, we are now integrating global warming in same way citizens of Los Angeles have integrated the overpopulation of, at least, their freeways. Or the way that residents along the Gulf of Mexico have adjusted to recurring tar balls and sludge on their beaches.

There was never going to be rioting over global warming, although I think that’s coming some hot summer afternoon. While critical to our survival as a species, climate change doesn’t stir the blood like racial injustice or abortion or my new favorite, “religious rights.” But what’s really keeping us inert is the scope of global warming, and our distance from the last time we took decisive global action of any kind. Oh, sure, we get into wars easily enough. But those are about channeling our collective aggression, and for obtaining oil. What was the last global life-affirming action we took? Some would say LGBT rights, except that as we pursue that important goal the temperature keeps going up.

Several days ago I viewed an online ecology video claiming that not only are we wrong for accepting bottled water as the way of things, we’re barely recycling the global production of empty plastic bottles. Some claim that as many as 80 percent are not recycled, and that the use of energy and petroleum to produce and ship those plastic bottles is in itself an ecological disaster.

With an almost hopeful tone, the video suggested that the sight of someone carrying around a plastic water bottle will soon be perceived the same as someone smoking a cigarette. In other words, we will turn on our friend … the water bottle. Loosening the hug we’re giving global warming and instead facing-off against it as an enemy requires that we reclaim the Big Picture. That likely won’t happen right now, as we diddle in the hideously small-picture circus tent of Mr. Trump. It won’t happen if we can’t teach ourselves to let tasty snacks like that county clerk fall by the wayside so can we turn our attention to the fully adult issue of planetary survival. I’m voting for getting smarter and making better use of our time. Who’s with me?

 

in Opinion
Related Posts

SM.a.r.t. Column: Shape Up – On Steroids

June 9, 2024

June 9, 2024

Nine years ago, SMa.r.t wrote a series of articles addressing the adaptive re-use of existing structures. We titled one “Shape...

SM.a.r.t Column: The Challenge of Running a City When City Staff Have Different Priorities

June 2, 2024

June 2, 2024

Living in a city has its perks, but it can be a real headache when the folks running the show...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path to Affordable Ownership in Santa Monica

May 27, 2024

May 27, 2024

[Note: our guest author today is Andres Drobny, a former Professor of Economics at the University of London, the former...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part II

May 19, 2024

May 19, 2024

As referenced in Part I of this article, the state’s use of faulty statistics and forceful legislation has left a...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part I

May 12, 2024

May 12, 2024

To quickly summarize, California grapples with an ongoing housing crisis spurred by state implementation of over 100 policies and mandates...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Where Will Our Huddled Masses Sleep? Navigating California’s Affordable Housing Mandates

May 5, 2024

May 5, 2024

Just as Lady Liberty beckons the “huddled masses” of immigrants to America, cities like Santa Monica have an ethical obligation...

SM.a.r.t Column: SMCLC SPEAKS

April 28, 2024

April 28, 2024

SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) periodically invites guest columnists who have made a significant contribution to the...

SM.a.r.t Column: Building Modern Boxes Lacks Identity

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

In the relentless pursuit of modernity, cities worldwide have witnessed the rise of so-called architectural marvels in the form of...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Santa Monica Needs Responsible Urban and Architectural Design

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

[SMa.r.t. note: Eight years ago, our highly esteemed and recently-passed colleague Ron Goldman documented his thoughts on the need for...

SM.a.r.t. Column: BLINK NOW!

April 7, 2024

April 7, 2024

Nine years ago, I wrote a column for SMa.r.t. titled SANTA MONICA: BEACH TOWN OR ‘DINGBAT’ CITY? (https://smdp.com/2015/05/09/santa-monica-beach-town-dingbat-city/)Here is the...

SM.a.r.t Column: ARB Courage (Part 2 of 2)

March 31, 2024

March 31, 2024

Last week we discussed the numerous flaws of the Gelson’s project as a perfect example of what not to do...

ARB Courage (Part 1 of 2)

March 24, 2024

March 24, 2024

On March 4, 2024, your ARB (Architectural Review Board) ruled in favor of the 521-unit Gelson’s Project at Ocean Park...

SM.a.r.t Column: Can California ARBs Balance Affordable Housing with Community Character in the Face of New Housing Laws?

March 17, 2024

March 17, 2024

By suggestion, I attended the March 4th ARB (Architectural Review Board) meeting that addressed the Gelson Lincoln Boulevard Project.  After...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Need for Safety

March 10, 2024

March 10, 2024

Earlier this week, in the dark pre-dawn hours, a pair of thugs covered in masks and hoodies burst into the...

Film Review: The Oscar Landscape 2024

March 7, 2024

March 7, 2024

FILM REVIEWTHE OSCAR LANDSCAPE 2024A Look at the Choices – Academy Awards – March 10, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. on...