Jeff Huggins has become a daily presence on this blog, plussing each one of my articles with his very thoughtful and informed comments. He and I ‘met’ during the course of our frequent discussions on DotEarth. Jeff is a very intelligent man, Baker Scholar from Harvard, ex-McKinsey consultant and Disney executive, who has become passionate about climate fight. He was kind enough to say yes when I asked that he write a guest post for La Marguerite.
Most California drivers know, intuitively, that if you suddenly come to a hard curve in the road, it’s usually wise to respect and follow it. If, for example, you’re driving on Highway 1 along the coast, or on Highway 120 in the mountains toward Yosemite, and you find yourself facing a sharp turn, it’s wise to respect it: If you don’t, you’ll probably end up in the ocean or in a deep valley. Closing your eyes, pointing your car straight ahead, and pressing down on the gas is usually not a good idea.
Global warming certainly presents an oncoming challenge on a much larger, and more difficult to perceive, scale than any normal curve in the road. Back in the early 80s, I was studying chemicals, trying to figure out how to push more oil out of the ground using emulsions, designing refinery processes, comparing starting salaries, and doing other things that come more naturally. All in Berkeley, Richmond, and San Francisco. But, the road I was forging (or following) took a few turns during the course of my 49 years, with global warming being the last and most significant. I had no choice in my mind but to make some major shifts.
This is what my life as a part-time, self-appointed ‘doer’ and philosopher looks like now:
Here’s one of my pictures of the “Step It Up” event in April last year, in Santa Cruz. The crowd was small but sturdy. Gotta start somewhere! I’m hoping that the “Focus The Nation” event is much larger and actually, well, focuses the nation!
Here’s a picture of the stuff I used while trying to clean up oil on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, a few days after the oil spill. That stick is covered with “black gold”, as many of us have heard it called from the days of The Beverly Hillbillies. A reporter interviewed me that day, and I was on the evening TV news, in my Cal sweatshirt. Go Bears!
And here’s a picture I took through the airplane window on a flight in December to a conference of philosophers in Baltimore. I think you can see, slightly, the curvature of the Earth. And, you can perhaps see (or at least picture) the relative thinness of our atmosphere. If my calculations are correct, if you think of the Earth as being the size of a basketball, the vast majority of the Earth’s atmosphere, by mass, would be within 0.3 (three tenths) millimeters of the basketball’s surface. That’s thin! It’s hard to hold your finger that close to a basketball’s surface for very long unless you have very steady hands.
The lesson: Take care of your atmosphere. You only get one!
Since I like quotes, I’ll end with a few:
“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”
– Albert Einstein
“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that’s my religion.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
– The character of Miguel de Cervantes (played by Peter O’Toole) in the MGM movie “Man of La Mancha” (1972)