The long Chili Cook-Off weekend is coming, running from Friday night to Monday evening and you should all try and make it. We also want to invite you to visit The Malibu Times photo booth to get your picture taken. With a little luck, you may make it into the paper and get your 15 minutes of fame. Don’t worry about the traffic because it’s going to be bad in any event, so come down and enjoy the festivities anyway. Typically after Labor Day we get our town back.
Most Malibu schools have reopened and, despite all of the controversy, most of the children have returned. In a recent story we did in the newspaper, I was shocked at how many parents have chosen not to have their children inoculated. The theory that it causes autism has been widely discredited; still, the parental apprehension continues to exist. I can understand it. Parents are saying, “Why not just play it safe and skip the inoculations?” The problem is, when enough parents say this, there is a genuine public health risk that develops. I come from a different time when there were epidemics. Every summer there were cases of polio, and parents were afraid to let us go out, and certainly never to a swimming pool or a public beach. In the eighth grade a little girl in my class died and I remember all of us in the class going to make a neighborhood condolence call on the family. It’s not something you forget. The vaccines, first Salk and later Sabin, were greeted with enormous relief. Additionally we all got everything—measles, mumps, whooping cough, etc.—and over the years the vaccines were developed and they worked and eliminated, or at least lessened, the impact of these diseases. We’re now two generations later and today’s parents have never seen an epidemic. They tend to think of it as ancient history. It’s not so. We’ve already had a revival of whooping cough. Others are coming if the parents don’t get their kids inoculated.
The weather has also been quixotic lately. We’re in the third year of a drought and at this rate greenery may soon become a thing of the past in Southern California. If this really is a climate change, and not just a climate cycle, we are going to have to change the way we live in many respects. Southern California really is a desert, and a lot of the things we’ve planted here will have to go if there isn’t enough water. There are lots of things we can do but we’re going to have to change the rules. I don’t know why we can’t use gray water from the sink and washing machine to water our gardens. Government is probably going to have to mandate low water appliances for all of us.
The entire California agriculture industry is going to have to change. If you drive up I-5 to Sacramento you see the irrigation systems flowing, all open to the air, all losing water to evaporation. That’s going to change and everything is going to be piped. You also see big rain birds in the fields sprinkling water on the crops, which again is an enormous waste of water. If you go to the Middle East you see fields covered in plastic with drip irrigation systems. They recognize that it’s a desert and farm accordingly. California farmers, who have grown up on cheap and plentiful water, are going to have to learn to do the same. We need a new state water project and reservoirs and maybe, perish the thought, additional dams and water storage. We’re using up our existing aquifers at an accelerating rate, and unless we get substantial rain, things will have to change. The environmental movement is going to go into crises because, if we don’t have enough water and the sea levels continue to rise, many of the rules we developed in a stable environment will no longer work.
The California Coastal Commission will absolutely go bonkers as climate changes, as will the building industry. Currently, new environmental rules require major developments to identify water sources. That’s going to get tougher as water supplies shrink. I suspect the builders, the construction unions, the building industry and the environmentalists are going to be fighting with each other or very little new stuff is going to get built.
I guess there is nothing new about all this, so instead of spending your weekend worrying about it all, come out to the Chili Cook-Off and have some fun. There is something to be said for burying your head in the sand.