What a mess of oddball stories have piled up in my virtual in-box the last few days.
First, we picked a heck of a time to start experimenting with legalizing marijuana out in the drought-stricken West. Because guess what—growing pot uses a lot of water:
California’s ongoing drought has been blamed on a lot of different factors, ranging from climate change to over consumption to the agricultural industry. But here’s one more factor that may be draining California dry: marijuana farms. These farms – some legal, most not – soak up a tremendous amount of water in the wilderness. At summer’s peak, each plant can soak up about six gallons of water a day, according to a recent report from McClatchy DC. It’s so bad in some regions, particularly California’s North Coast, that important fish populations are suffering.
Illegal pot farms in Northern California have already been linked to extensive wildlife deaths, as the farms are often protected with rat bait. This has even affected federally protected endangered species. (California banned the sale of rat poison last month to help protect wildlife.)
Now both the headline and the story are slightly stupid; growing pot doesn’t cause rainfall to decline, i.e., pot doesn’t “cause” drought. It just adds to demand for scarce water. Still, it’s fun to contemplate whether pot smokers care about the cumulative effect of their habit on wildlife. Bummer, dude.
Second, it was eight years ago now that environmental writer David Roberts of Grist.com mused about someday having “Nuremberg trials” for climate skeptics, which occasioned some rather ferocious blowback. (That hasn’t stopped the recent spate of climateers calling for people like Power Line’s climate desk to be arrested and prosecuted.)
So when I stumbled across a website called ClimateNuremberg.com, I thought I found yet another example of a climateer channeling his inner authoritarian. The site currently features a piece in which the proprietor of the site says:
Part of being a science communicator is hoping a natural disaster kills as many members of the audience as possible, as soon as possible, with as much media exposure as possible. As a communicator myself, I’d like nothing better than for thousands of middle-class white people to die in an extreme weather event—preferably one with global warming’s fingerprints on it—live on cable news. Tomorrow.
It requires a close reading to figure out that ClimateNuremberg is a brilliant satire site, and like the best satire, it is close enough to the truth to be taken in by folks on both sides of the climate controversy. It sounds exactly like what many climateers say in their semi-unguarded moments. Hats off to Australia’s Brad Keyes for pulling it off. He’s suckered lots of folks in the comment threads.
Third, don’t miss Ben Smith and Anita Badejo’s long feature about Tom Lehrer on Buzzfeed, in particular for this important observation about Lehrer’s left-leaning politics and how it (and the rest of old New Deal liberalism) came to be smothered by the New Left:
But his left was the square, suit-wearing, high-culture left. His circle at Harvard included Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the renowned historian, JFK biographer, and then-nominal chairman of the Cambridge chapter of Americans for Democratic Action. His political hero was Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956, the man whom Richard Nixon damagingly dismissed as an “egghead.”
Stevenson’s losing battle marked the end of a political tradition, and also the beginning of the end of a kind of Ivy League liberal intellectualism’s place atop the Democratic Party. What was coming was the New Left and the counterculture, something whose aesthetics Lehrer couldn’t stand, even if their politics weren’t necessarily at odds. . .
”The liberal consensus, which was the audience for this in my day, has splintered and fragmented in such a way that it’s hard to find an issue that would be comparable to, say, lynching,” he also told the New York Times in Purdum’s 2000 article, which was part of his last round of interviews to promote an anthology of his work. ”Everybody knows that lynching is bad. But affirmative action vs. quotas, feminism vs. pornography, Israel vs. the Arabs? I don’t know which side I’m on anymore. And you can’t write a funny song that uses, ‘On the other hand.”’
Finally, one of our loyal readers offers this mockup of one of our photos from yesterday’s Week in Pictures: