Kage Baker, were she observing the weather this year, would be prophesying gloomily. “Summer’s all off schedule,” she would say. As was her habit, she’d look to Shakespeare for the right words: ” The Nine Men’s Morris is all filled up with mud, man,”* she’d say. And she’d shake her head.
She’d be right. The heat is here early; the thunderstorms and lightning are early. California usually doesn’t get even the hint of storms until the Autumn; but right now, we’re fighting “monsoonal moisture” as remnants of equatorial storm gyres float up the coast of Mexico to menace us. There’s probably an El Nino lurking out there in the Pacific, and it’s gearing up to drown us this winter – in the meantime, wet air creeps further up the western edge of the continent than it usually does, and the humidity imitates the Midwest here in the land of yucca and Santa Ana winds.
Though it could be worse. In Arizona, they are having simooms. Or maybe it’s haboobs. It’s great whacking dust storms, is what it is, that come looming over the desert lands like a scene from The Mummy (the 1999 one) to convert Phoenix from the sweatiest city in America to a dessicated phantom. Fires are already burning; Utah, New Mexico, Colorado are all beating California to the punch for conflagrations. We may yet burn here, but it looks like we’ll be small potatoes compared to the neighbors.
And worser yet, even. The Midwest, after surviving a veritable Fimbulwinter, is now dealing with record-breaking tornadoes and floods. Tornadoes are springing up far out of their usual range, eying little towns and trailer parks in the South now. Hurricanes are threatening the entire Eastern seaboard – not just Florida and Louisiana, where they’re kind of expected. At least out here on the Western Edge, our monsoons are still theoretical: they haven’t come ashore in San Diego or Huntington Beach yet. Though I suppose it’s only a matter of time.
I’ve been aware of climate change for years, of course. (She said smugly.) The things Kage and I read, the fields we followed, we had notice of this 20-odd years ago when only scientists and civilians like SF writers were beginning to take it seriously. Also, I have a personal interest in extinction events (Don’t judge, Dear Readers; some people collect shoelaces or sex toys.) and any study of the Permian Extinction paints a very clear and scary picture of what happens when abnormally fast atmospheric heating happens.
Kage even spent a lot of time calculating just how far up the street the local Pacific was likely to rise, in Pismo Beach – she figured we might end up nearly beach-side if we lived into our 80’s. Of course, by that time we might have had to move into the hills, but she quite liked the idea of being ocean-front property.
After all, we grew up in a vast seaside city. On returning to Los Angeles, I found myself once more living where sea-mist came flooding up as far as the L.A. River; where the Pacific and the Channel Islands can be seen from the Hollywood Hills. Various extrapolations expect that in the next 20 years, L.A. could find itself covered in seawater for as little as 4 miles, and as much as 15 – no matter how it goes, my household will be closer to the beach, but not inundated. So, even here in the Basin, I’ll manage. The towers of Century City may be rising from a new lagoon, but I’ll be enjoying a sea breeze while I watch the tidal bore on the L.A. River …
One should always cling to as much silver lining as one can, Dear Readers. And break out the swizzle sticks and paper umbrellas.
* This is the passage Kage always quoted, regarding climate change. It’s Titania’s saddest speech, I think, from Midsummer Night’s Dream.