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When the beautiful becomes ugly

This should be a beautiful photo: the bounty of my parents’ farm near Corralitos. Holy basil, limes, lemons, and peppers—the bounty of late summer.

That’s the problem. This is December. The only natural bounty in this photo is the lemons and limes (which are more productive in winter). Otherwise, the holy basil should have gone to seed; the peppers should just be a memory, forlorn, brown stalks shivering in the wind.

This picture makes me sad, anxious, perplexed.

Sad because the fires raging in Southern California are directly related to the reason I am picking fresh peppers in December.

Anxious because I fear that the doomsday predictions of climate scientists are, perhaps. too optimistic.

And perplexed because I just don’t get human nature.

What does it take to get us to change our ways? How can we know if the little things we’re doing individually are having any effect at all? How can we not be angry at our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens who are not only ignoring the signs, but blithely taking part in the actions that are causing these problems?

We are a parasite killing its host.

My personal belief is that we won’t take care of this problem until we agree to spend political capital on it, and unfortunately, the people in charge are in denial. They just passed a tax bill that will stifle investment in renewable energy. They have told our automakers that they should cede our leading role in alternative fuel vehicles to China. They say that human-caused global warming is a fiction made up by scientists.

Well, this isn’t fiction. A beautiful bouquet of holy basil on my counter in December. No rain in the forecast for 10 days out. Southern California burns today; so far Northern California is safe. But for how long? And what happens when the water greening the Central Valley runs out? What will be on wintertime supermarket shelves in Washington D.C., Texas, and Iowa?

I don’t see beauty. I see a parasite killing its host.

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