I think we’re not in Aspen anymore

Pardon my French, but — Jeepers! This town got trashed while I was gone. This is why I shouldn’t leave. Debris everywhere, trees down, and kajillions of people without power — all from some weird fist-of-God thing called a Derecho. Last year, an earthquake, this year a Derecho. What’s next year? I feel like someone is inventing new climatological disasters. (Feel sudden need to name-drop: I know, personally, Jason Samenow.)

I got back at about 3 a.m. this morning to Dulles and need to resettle into a normal routine after two weeks of the Sandusky story and four days of the Aspen Ideas Festival. The idea I kept hearing about at the Ideas Festival was the gutting of the working class in America – with implications for the end of the American Dream, the end of averageness, and a growing gap between the (busy, hectic, navel-gazing) haves and the downwardly mobile have-nots. The growing class divide. [I’ll explain more about this in future blog posts.]

There was also a lot of talk about the environment, and life on a world with 7 billion heading toward 9 billion people, and the “stress nexus” of energy, food and water, and that by itself was daunting stuff, capable of making you wonder if there’s any hope to finesse this sudden arrival of the Anthropocene. But combined with the first item – the disruption of something as basic as the notion that in America a person can get a job and raise a family and own a house without being necessarily one of the educated elites – is particularly unsettling.

Because even if we find equilibrim someday, and create an environmentally sustainable society, what kind of society will that be?

This is all worrisome even if you assume we’ll have electricity.

[More to come...]

[There’s much to love about this personal note from Anderson Cooper about his sexual orientation, but most of all I love his attitude toward being a good journalist who tells other people’s stories truthfully. Bravo.]

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."

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