For the first time in years, I feel hopeful. I have been feeling more than a little despondent after the challenges of growing seasons that continue to break heat records and harvests interrupted three of the last four years by record fires. We realize that we are experiencing the predicted effects of climate change… and we aren’t alone. Australia experienced record heat and fires, Siberia was on fire this past summer, record high temps were recorded throughout the world, glaciers and permafrost are melting, Venice activated a flood wall for the first time to combat rising seas and we are experiencing a record number of hurricanes. So why am I hopeful? Because the incoming administration made climate change a priority in their campaign and, I hope, will make it a major part of their administration.
There is and there will be a lot of misinformation regarding climate change. Some are baseless and some are based on partial truths, like the claim that poor forest management is the cause of California’s extreme fire seasons. That is partially true, but forest management is not the cause of climate change. I was despondent because those chosen to lead were not acknowledging the science of climate change.
Twenty five years ago, I had the good fortune to attend a series of society dinners in San Francisco. I am usually uncomfortable at these types of events but Maria looked out for me by making sure I sat next to someone fun… it worked. From then on, I told Maria that I would only go to those parties if I could sit next to the same person every time. That person was intelligent, inclusive, well informed, able to discuss many topics, loved rock and roll and enjoyed a good glass of wine. She also had a twinkle in her eye and a genuine laugh. I knew nothing about her before we met, but she left an impression. Her name was Kamala Harris. I never imagined that she would achieve what she has, let alone someday becoming the Vice President of the United States, but the very fact that she did, gives me hope. Our politicians could be cartoon characters as far as I’m concerned. Their persona sculpted by the media, pundits or opposition ads. It is different when you actually know them. It allows you to cut through the chatter and see them as nuanced humans.
Why am I hopeful? Because she believes in science and takes climate change seriously… AND she will have the ear of the new decider-in-chief. She is a Californian who has experienced the fires first hand and knows the people who have been impacted. She understands that our natural resources, tourism and agriculture are an economic boon to the California economy. She also understands that the fires and climate change are like an unfair tax that not only burdens the victims but adds an “environmental tax” on everything from the cost of food to health care. Our winery has lost much since the 2017 fires that destroyed our SLD Estate Vineyard and other property. These fires forced us to abandon smoke-damaged grapes three of the past four years. That is the tax we are paying for a carbon-based economy that relies on fossil fuel, carbon belching concrete production and carbon releasing non-sustainable farming practices. If we think of these losses beyond ourselves, the economic ramifications are huge… insurance industry losses, tourism, health (both physical and mental), and the monetary cost to fight these mega fires. If we don’t tackle climate change, we and many others in the wine world won’t be in business in the future and I expect the cost of food will skyrocket as shortages become the norm.
None of this needs to be. We have the technology and the knowledge to change things. Farming can be encouraged to shift to carbon sequestering practices using regenerative methodology. Concrete production, if it were a country, would be the 8th largest contributor of greenhouse gasses but new technologies exist that can actually turn it into a carbon negative industry by capturing carbon in its manufacture. We are also on the cusp of a personal transportation revolution that will soon make the internal combustion engine obsolete. All of these fledgling ideas could become the norm and actually solve problems if they just get a little supportive nudge from the powers that be.
We now have a reason to be hopeful and a real reason to celebrate. Raise a glass with me to the opportunities of the future and a better world for our children.