As Ventura County bakes at over 100 degrees on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 24, with a power outage and brush fire in Ventura to boot, the debate over climate change’s existence seems ludicrous but still it exists. As thousands grapple with homelessness, shortages of food and water and just trying to rebuild their lives after hurricanes in Florida, Texas and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, applauding the president’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement feels as though it was done with a sort of aversion to human decency and concern. While thousands sort through the ashes of their lives, even burying loved ones, in Northern California after wildfires pillaged the drought-stricken region, refuting climate change claims by simply arguing that drought is cyclical in the state is actually a call to ignore the alarming evidence and carry on with our environmentally abusive habits. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s in fact dangerous and sickening.
Why anyone would choose to deny climate change as our polar caps lose huge glacial chunks that are not replenishing as they had in the past, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, is completely unsettling. Though the most ardent climate change denier would say ice is still there, so what’s the big deal? The reality is, there are serious consequences not only for humans now, but all life now and in the future, from the chemical changes in our oceans to the atmospheric changes that have no doubt influenced the severe weather patterns too many are suffering from now.
Understanding the absolute rigidity of denying human impacts on the global climate, especially when it comes to the American perspective, seems to be heavily contingent on the refusal to change any ordinary behaviors, including the cars we drive, the food we eat and the clothes we wear, plus the refusal to adapt to the fact that once well-paying industries are simply obsolete, such as coal mining. But still we would rather bake, drown and get whisked away in a tornado then even consider doing something different. Well, the United States can only keep its head in the sand for so long as the consequences hit maximum impact.
Looking at the 1967 film, A Guide for the Married Man, there is a discussion between two men about what to do when caught cheating. One says to the other, “Deny, deny, deny.” The next scene reflects the married man caught in the act, in bed, and the wife calling out the husband. His ongoing response: “What woman?” Eventually the wife relents and asks simply, “What’s for dinner?”
The following missing scenes may include but are not limited to when the wife catches an STD or ends up helping one way or another to raise a child from the affair, plus her managing the clear betrayal as a work of fiction. And that in a sordid nutshell is climate change denial. The consequences are real despite how much anyone denies it.
Oxnard: Air pollution reduced but blight remains
There’s good news this week for environmental activists in Oxnard: NRG Energy Inc. announced that it will shut down the operations of the three power plants at the Mandalay facility by Dec. 31 due to not winning a new contract recently up for bid with Southern California Edison. This closure comes after years of heated meetings and debates, certain compromise and practically endless public comment over NRG Energy’s proposal to build a new sleeker, more efficient power plant at the site to replace an old one. In the last month, two of five members of the California Energy Commission said they would not support the proposal, which then NRG requested to suspend power plant application.
It’s clear, at least after Dec. 31, that with the power plants offline, directly related air pollution will disappear. One problem, however, NRG Energy Inc. stated that in order to remove the old, bulky eyesore there currently, which was a compromise to build the new one, NRG would have to have a funding source for the demolition. That funding source was a new operational plant. Judging by the speed (or lack thereof) of the full cleanup of the hazardous sites of Halaco (Oxnard), Petrochem (North of Ventura) and the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Simi Valley), we aren’t holding our breath that we will see the end of blight at Mandalay any time soon. The upside, until then, we will be able to breathe a little easier.