Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


My Ex is from Santa Barbara, and her father still lived there while we were together. We'd go there every year at Christmas time. (Which was good, it got me out of Christmas, she's Jewish). Montecito is a neighboring town, really part of what you might call Greater Santa Barbara.

The area is - or was I should say - really paradisaical. The climate is said to be the most equable anywhere. Or again, it was. In late December it was balmy, with people playing beach volleyball and dining out of doors, rosy sunsets over the ocean and most years, little rain. (Every so often a stormy pattern would set up, but that didn't happen when I was there.) In the summer, it didn't get too hot because the ocean was cold due to the Humboldt current. The architecture is beautiful and the town is full of great things to do - excellent restaurants, museums and historical sites, a fabulous botanical garden, a bird sanctuary. The mountains loom behind and you could hike through spectacular scenery.

In fact my girlfriend's father was president of the local Sierra Club and he had written a guide to local trails. We'd go hiking at least once every year and there were always fascinating discoveries -- an abandoned olive ranch, the monarch butterfly grove (the location is not publicized), other wonders.

The city of Santa Barbara itself was threatened by a wildfire a few years ago, but it didn't make it down to the coast. This year, as you know, the largest wildfire in recorded California history roared through Santa Barbara County and destroyed a good part of it. It spared the city but did major damage in Montecito. And now following a rainstorm that fell on the burned out mountainsides, more of the town has been destroyed by mudslides. The images are apocalyptic, almost impossible to take in. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and untold numbers of people are dead. The major coastal highway is closed and will be for many days. People are still trapped without food, water or utilities.

The climate there is no longer so equable. There have been bouts of extreme heat, alternating drought and storminess, howling wind. And that's why Montecito has slid toward the ocean. But of course this has nothing to do with human activity. Just ask a Republican.


Don Quixote said...

Great post! Thank you. I lived in Montecito for two months. Trouble in paradise; trouble all over the world.

There is an amazing article in The Nation this week. Here's the URL:

This article is so well-written, logical, informed and cogent ... and yet it will fly over the heads of all reality-deniers (such as your annoying, persistent and willfully ignorant commenter, "Gay Boy Bob"). The premise of the article is irrefutable. And yet it will literally fly over the head of any deniers--which is what the article is about, i.e., denial--who read it. They are incapable of understanding any other point of view other than their death-driven one.

That's the problem with crazy people: they don't know they're crazy. And this country, our USA, was founded, as Art Spiegelman said at a lecture last month, on a genocide. So I use the term "crazy" because anyone, like Trump, whose actions are based in denial, is on an intellectual death march. It is the job of all concerned people to speak truth as constantly and loudly as the TVs that blare corporate "news" at us in hospitals, hotels, schools, homes, stores and elsewhere. There is a concerted effort on the part of the information-dispensers to keep people from thinking. Nothing that a little time next to a stream or spent in meditation somewhere won't vanquish. It's the Allegory of the Cave, again and again. Let us each aspire to be one of the people who seeks the truth behind the shadows.

Gay Boy Bob said...


This is a terrible catastrophe, but you're asking your reader to jump to the conclusion that if it were not for human activity, this would not have happened. There are many other factors that you're not taking into consideration.

One that really jumps out for me is the century long government policy setting all of this up by not allowing naturally occurring fires to run their course.

“We have 100 years of fire suppression that has led to this huge accumulation of fuel loads, just dead and downed debris from trees and plant material in our forests, and in our woodlands,” says Berleman. “As a result of that, our forests and woodlands are not healthy, and we’re getting more catastrophic fire behavior than we would otherwise.”

Most fires would not have toasted up the topsoil or killed every tree, but these scientists believe poor government policy also played a big role in this catastrophe.