From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/05/15-0
by John Atcheson
Published on Thursday, May 15, 2014 by Common Dreams
In 1961 Joan Didion released a collection of essays titled, Slouching Toward Bethlehem. The first essay, “Dreamers of a Golden Dream,” contains the following:
October is the bad month for wind, the month when breathing is difficult, and the hills blaze up spontaneously… Every voice seems a scream. It is the season of suicide, divorce and prickly dread…
She was talking about the Santa Ana’s… searing 100 mile-an-hour winds that shriek down the mountains and scorch everything in their path. Back in 1961, it was common knowledge that Santa Ana’s only came in the Fall – in October.
But the winds arrived the day before yesterday, here in the land of dreamers of the golden dream. In May, which is what used to be our wet season.
People were on edge as the hot gusts blasted through the valleys toward the ocean. They squinted at the hills, vigilant. They sniffed the air for tell-tale signs of smoke.
Homeowners gathered the things they cherished or needed – photos, gifts, important papers – and piled them by the front door, ready.
Firemen checked their equipment, and did double duty, and the entire area held its breath hoping that this time, it would pass. This time, the gods or fates would spare them.
But they didn’t.
On May 13th, a spark fell on the parched land and ignited. No big deal. The entire fire safety apparatus pounced on the isolated fire – helicopters, fire trucks, tanker planes, men and hoses by the hundreds. But they were no match for the hot, dry, winds. Sparks and cinders carried the fire westward in giant leaps, like some Titan stepping over mere mortals. As the day wore on, 20,000 homes were evacuated, and over 1500 acres were burned to a char.
By the evening of May 14th, there were nine fires burning in San Diego, destroying homes, with one headed toward a nuclear power plant.
So, three years into a record-breaking drought, we get Santa Ana’s… in May. And record breaking heat. To say that the weather is unusual is an understatement of epic proportions. It’s freakish. Unfortunately, it’s also going to be the new normal for much of the Southwest, as the recently released Climate Action Report shows.
Conservatives will be tempted to dismiss this as simply a “left-coaster” problem. Marco Rubio is probably sharpening his crayons right now, to say something like this. Unfortunately for Rubio, climate change will hit Florida even harder than the Southwest. With the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheets, it is now virtually assured that most of southeastern Florida will be uninhabitable, and absent aggressive action, Miami will be history within several generations. With this collapse, sea level rise of geologically significant proportions – twenty or more feet – is now pretty much hardwired into the system, the only question is how quickly it will proceed. There’s no off switch.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/05/15-0