Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tracking the Microcosmic Effects of Global Warming: A Local Report

The reports of the emerging deep-infrastructure effects of protracted drought and heat across much of the U.S. make me more than a little crazy.  Crazier than usual.  Because it seems many folks don't listen, aren't paying attention, and it is now too late to reverse the damage.

By "protracted," I mean to say that these conditions have been developing for some years now, and anyone with eyes to see could see what's happening:

In my area, trees now routinely topple for no seeming reason, because their root systems have been damaged by protracted drought and intense heat.   
A woman picknicking with her family last summer under an oak tree in my area died when the wind caused a limb to fall from the dry, heat-stressed old oak. 
Deer and other wildlife are braving the dangers of the city to come into populated areas and eat anything they can find to eat. 
The foundations of houses are cracking this summer, due to several years of heat and drought. 
We can no longer grow hydrangeas--a reliable garden plant for all of my childhood and through much of my adult life--because the intense heat and drought causes them to dry up and die without special attention, constant watering. 
For a decade or so now, we have been able to grow semi-tropical plants that we could  previously grow only by potting them and bringing them inside in winter.  We have a sweet olive that has now grown to a tree topping the roof. 
Only one of four pear trees we have planted in the past decade or so has survived the unrelenting heat and drought of summer.  This with constant, careful watering. 
In the past three summers, dogwoods have died all across the city.  Many trees and shrubs had dropped their brown leaves by the end of June, strewing the paths of parks with fallen leaves as if if were fall. 
For a getaway, we sometimes drive north about 100 miles, into the Ozarks, to picnic beside a small stream with waterfalls.  Steve's brother has made that trip this summer, and tells us the stream is now dried up; locals say this has never happened in their memory. 
For the past two months, every night as night falls, there's a strong rustle of hot, dry wind like a sirocco.  Such strong breezes at nightfall are entirely new for us in summertime.

In my bones, I feel that these signs are just the beginning of what we will see as nature turns decisively against us as recompense for our lack of respect for mother earth.  And how does anything live on this planet when nature turns against the inhabitants of the earth?

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