boswash

When Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Sr. was governor of California, people were moving in at a pace of 1,000 a day. With a jubilant Mr. Brown officiating, California commemorated the moment it became the nation’s largest state, outpacing New York, in 1962, with a church-bell-ringing, four-day celebration. He was the boom-boom governor for a boom-boom time: championing highways, universities and, most consequential, a sprawling water network to feed the explosion of agriculture and development in the dry reaches of central and Southern California.

If Pat Brown wanted the stunningly ambitious California State Water Project that he muscled into law to “be a monument to me,” as he later said of what was the most expensive public works project in the state’s history, Jerry Brown, his son, championed the modest if intellectually provocative “Small Is Beautiful” viewpoint espoused by the economist E. F. Schumacher, which emphasized the dangers of depleting natural resources. (Mr. Brown flew to London to speak at Schumacher’s funeral in 1977.) As governor, Jerry Brown spoke of limits and respect for the fragility of the planet from the moment he took office.

A projection 50 years ahead based on the World’s Fair of 1964

“The world of 50 years hence will have shrunk further.”

“Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.”