I Told You So, Floods, Adam McKay, and Climate Change


Four parts:

Floods in West Virginia

Floods in West Virginia

One: I heard about floods. Over the weekend. Every summer, people I know volunteer in Appalachia. They do carpentry and construction, to make people’s houses “Warmer, Safer, Drier.” All year: pizza meetings, car washes, then they take their tools and head down to West Virginia.

This summer though, there are floods. Four feet of water. This year, “Warmer, Safer, Drier” means flood recovery. There was a house off its foundation, in flames and floating down a river. It hit a bridge.

Two: Adam McKay directed The Big Short. I’ve seen it twice. It’s an awesome movie. Surprisingly awesome. It’s about the collapse of the housing bubble, which cost Americans trillions of dollars and nearly collapsed the global economy. It tells the stories of people who knew it was going to happen. People who went around the finance industry yelling about the sky falling. The responses they got resembled the responses Chicken Little got.

Adam KcKay

Adam KcKay

Adam McKay also directed Talladega Nights and Anchorman and was head writer at Saturday Night Live.

Two and a half: Adam McKay and Adam Davidson run a podcast called “Surprisingly Awesome” and episode 14 is all about “I told you so’s” The real-life people from The Big Short discovered that saying “I told you so” to people they warned before the crash was deeply unsatisfying.

Three: Some people have known about climate change a long time. Way longer than me, and I’ve known for a while. Knew in 1988, or even 1975. 41 years of knowing since 1975. People I know changed their West Virginia plans because of climate change. In fact, we’re getting close to the time when everyone will know someone who’s changed his or her plans because of climate change. You probably already do. Where were you for Superstorm Sandy? “Warm air holds more water.” Here’s Bill McKibben saying, for the seven millionth time “Warm air holds more water.”

West Virginia got 7 inches of rain in 3 hours. Here’s video of the house floating away – a floating house that’s also on fire. Here’s prison inmates leaving their cells to fight wildfires – 24 hour shifts for $1.00 per hour.

Oh look, the climate, it changed!

Oh look, the climate, it changed!

Four: The conclusion? There’s no joy in saying “I told you so” about climate change. Watching these perfectly predictable things happen in real life is nightmarish. Predictable decades ago, as in you can only run the numbers one way. Literally nightmarish as in resembling a terrible dream that proceeds by its own inexorable logic to terrifying conclusions. We said there’d be burning houses floating away, or could have. We said there’d be prison inmates killed by burning falling trees, or could have. Climate change is by far the biggest challenge our species has ever faced. And climate change provides by far the biggest “I told you so” our species has ever been told.

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