Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Playing with Fire

Each day, asks a question of opinion. Today's is plainer than most:

"Do you think climate change is avoidable?"

As of now, the results show 65% of respondents say no. Good thing, too, since the climate changes all the time, AND it is clear that the climate HAS changed in the last several decades.

The interesting thing about this simple question are the more complex questions the question insinuates: Do you think the SoCal fires can be blamed on climate change? Do you think, then, that the SoCal fires can be blamed on us? Can we stave off the increasingly ill effects of climate change? Can we keep up our current lifestyles?

Today, there was a story about how the fires might give a boost to the slumping housing market. Thousands of refugees from burned homes and businesses will need new things, apartments, new houses, builders, contractors.

A few sound giddy: These are not your usual homeless. These huddled masses aren't really homeless; they're in HOTELS. This isn't like the hordes of angry vagrants in New Orleans, one commentator wrote, these people are INSURED. A billion dollars in fresh 2008 cash will bounce back into the local economy.

And still, 35% of CNN survey respondents chose to just say "no" to climate change. "No" meaning you don't recognize any of the changes which have already been measured?

And while we're asking questions, how about a few more: Should any of the most remote houses high up in that tenderbox chaparral be allowed to rebuild? Should we be allowed to build wherever we want, just because we "love" it? Just because we want a "great view"? Just because we can afford it? Just because we are insured?

Yes or no, and no matter how much millions watch swooshing footage of fire and billowing smoke, this calamity may be old news (or B section news) next year, and some, a month, a season, a year from now, while the world burns, will go on prancing around in their pajamas at the Hyatt.

Yes or no, we are still playing with fire.


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