In these rough times we could all use a laugh -- and one digression about climate change

Dan Glickman's Laughing at Myself

OK, I know I said earlier today I would only post once a week or so, and here I am already posting my second one the same first day. But I don’t think I’ll run out of things to say. And with all of the news being so depressing, I thought I’d give readers a suggestion to lift us all up.

Buy and read Dan Glickman’s Laughing at Myself. It’s his memoir of his time in Congress, as Secretary of Agriculture, as head of the Motion Picture Association of America (the plummiest of the plum jobs in DC), and his growing up. Which I know a lot about, since I was several years behind him, growing up in Wichita, Kansas. Our parents were best friends. Dan’s parents are legendary, and you’ll understand why after you read his book.

But I’m not giving away the book’s secret to getting through bad times, especially the almost vicious level of partisanship that has gripped our country (a subject I suspect I will be going back to frequently in my posts). The answer of course, as the book’s title clearly indicates: laugh, have a sense of humor, lighten up (that last bit is play on my last name).

I realize, of course, that many of you will find Dan’s lifelong quest to help solve society’s problems by crossing the political aisle, COMPROMISING to get more than a half of loaf which is better than no loaf at all a bit quaint these days. But until and unless our country gets back to that place — and depending on the day, sometimes I think I’ll see it in my lifetime, others not — we will not solve so many of the challenges that confront us.

One of those challenges, sad to say, is all too evident in the country this week, and through this weekend, given the ravages of Hurricane Ida, is doing something about climate change. No, not just the usual stuff about reducing CO2 emissions. Because with so much CO2 already in the atmosphere, extreme weather events are already baked in the cake as it were.

We NEED MUCH MORE INVESTMENT IN EXTREME WEATHER RESILIENCE, flood management, and yes discouraging people from living in coastal areas rather than simply paying people to rebuild in places that will only get damaged again, and again. The bipartisan infrastructure bill will certainly help, but I am concerned it’s not enough.

With John Fleming, I wrote about all this in February for Brookings after Texas was devastated for a week with extreme cold and ice: https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-climate-wolf-at-the-door-why-and-how-climate-resilience-should-be-central-to-building-back-better/.

Summer’s no different, and we’re not even through hurricane season.

But I digress (couldn’t help myself, real world intrudes). In the meantime, remember, try Dan’s advice — some humor will go a long way in these difficult times.