Dearth, Wind, & Fire


California dreams are becoming nightmares.

The state - known for perfect weather and picturesque everything - continues to be on fire. According to the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, 252,673 acres have been torched so far in 6,541 discrete fires.

In a way, those are good numbers. An average of 404,368 acres burned in each of the last five years. The improvement likely has something to do with a mandatory “de-energization” instituted by Pacific Gas & Electric, which shut down the grid in many places so that tree branches wouldn’t spark fires when they flew into power lines.

California is America’s largest state economy. And a dearth of proper planning means its activity can literally get blown away at certain times of year. This is the economic cost of climate change made tangible; one of many instances where a management team mortgaged its community’s future for a chance at short term profit.

Imagine what the world might look like if nothing changes: The wealthy buy solar panels and generators while less fortunate folks make do in the dark. Extrapolate that forward, and it starts to sound like what’s imagined in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. In that short story, human society has striated into two distinct races. The fragile Eloi (who live in the light) and the terrifying Morlocks (who live in the dark).

The illustration below should catch you up if you haven’t read the text. What can be done to prevent this?

On this episode of Free Money, Ashby and I talk about where to find the $70-$200 billion dollars it will take to gird California’s grid against future interruptions. We also show off a few new sound effects.

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And as always, we take questions from listeners. This week we answered:

  • What the heck is Modern Monetary Theory?

  • Are you two still drinking secret toasts to the health of Michael Bennet?

  • You two seem to concentrate on “boil the ocean” type problems. Have you ever been able to declare success in anything?

Morlock from Kaibutsu Gensō Gashū illustrated by Tatsuya Morino