Friday, December 11, 2009

Los Angeles in Winter

Los Angeles is wonderful in the winter. The cooler temperatures and occasional rain make people subdued, flannel-wrapped, and easier to take. Even the traffic, I swear, is just a hair slower. I was crossing Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice this morning -- jaywalking -- and the drivers weren't trying to kill me, they weren't even aiming at me. I felt just the barest touch of consideration. It's really great.

I love Los Angeles. I looked at a favorite garden, just down the street from my sister's house. Roses were blooming. They looked so pretty.

Then I went to the coffee shop -- I have some old friends there, habitues, they go there every day. I sat with Eric and Evan and Chaz, reading the Los Angeles Times.

The most beautiful women in the world walk into this coffee shop. One after another, it's so stunning. It's a good show. Don't tell me it's an illusion. It's how people make a living around here. I love the movies and I love being around the people who make them.

Meanwhile, across the world, Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize just a week after announcing a troop increase in Afghanistan. He shits diamonds. I don't know how else to put it.

I'm not having such a bad week myself, so I don't complain. I read Thomas Friedman's column on global warming, and I agreed with him. I think it's a problem and we ought to do something about it:

"If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices.

But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner.

In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent."

That's how Friedman puts it, and I agree.

The problem is that I don't know any scientists -- only a few, and them not well, so it's hard for me to make a judgment on this question. It's not something I can verify with my own observation.

I have always kept a small carbon footprint, before it was called a carbon footprint, and before I ever heard of a global warming hypothesis, so I'm already going that way, and there are many compelling reasons to conserve our natural resources besides prevention of global warming.

When they had the climate convention in Copenhagen, there were too many limousines and there was too much conspicuous consumption. We should have seen electric cars, and carpooling, and people walking instead of driving -- even if it was hypocritical posing, it still would have been more persuasive.

These are people with big carbon foot prints telling people like us with small carbon foot prints how to be have. That isn't right.

It bolsters the conservative objection that a global elite is using the climate change hypothesis to impose radical restrictions on personal freedom. This objection is plausible and needs to be addressed squarely.

But then there was the stolen e-mail scandal showing that some scientists in England cooked data to prove a pattern of global warming caused by human activity, and also conspired to prevent opposing views from gaining access to prestigious publications.

Cooking data is cheating, pure and simple, and stifling opposing views is just as wrong. But it only looks like a few bad apples. It doesn't look like a widespread conspiracy.

True, academic people, as I have known them, are subject to fads, social pressure and careerism, just like the rest of us.

Therefore, one remains skeptical. To say one "believes" in global warming is ludicrous. Instead, one makes a judgment based on the best available evidence. Belief has nothing to do with it. Climate change caused by human activity is plausible. We should cultivate a careful regard for whatever emissions we pump into the atmosphere under any circumstances. We can achieve a cleaner environment without excessive austerity and without excessive regulation. This is very possible and a good thing, and it's what I am working for.

THE HYPE. Los Angeles is all about the Hype. I went for a walk on the Venice Boardwalk. I spotted a film crew working in a roped-off area, with bright lights on poles, and electric cables snaking all over the place, generators, utility trailers, tracks laid for the camera to move one, a side tent with a catered meal, and more equipment -- there were at least forty people working there, including one Los Angeles cop astride a motorcycle doing crowd control.

All this was for a short segment of a commercial for Buffalo Wings, I was told -- because I talking to the cop on the motorcycle. He was taking it easy, working a cross-word puzzle. His cycle said "Film Unit." He said the LAPD had 150 retired officers who worked the Film Unit on an as-needed basis.

The cops get a lot of variety on the Film Unit, working all over the city on different days. Plus, it was a fair-weather job -- the film crews can't work on location on rainy days.

I would have said the cop had it easy, but after we lost four policemen in Seattle last week, I won't ever say that again.

Anyway, it was good to see the forty people working on the commercial, plus the cop on the Film Unit. They were all getting paid, even if they weren't producing Art for the Ages.

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