Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alex Pareene on the Planet's Doom and the Supremes

Alex Pareene thinks that with sea levels rising precipitously (and inexorably) along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., whatever the Supremes say about health care this week is probably doomed to be a footnote to history.  High court rulings have a way of appearing insignificant as the imperial city in which they're handed down washes away into the sea.

Here, it reached 107F yesterday--the highest temperature ever recorded in June in our area.  This after two brutally dry months with almost no rain, and much of the spring vegetation has long since dried up.

Humid, lushly green Arkansas which H.L. Mencken famously called a "miasmatic swamp" has, in my lifetime and before my eyes, become Arizona.  And it seems that far too few people at the "everyday" level have a clue what's going on or what the climate changes mean--that too few of those who were hurrahing about the early, exceedingly hot spring in much of the country have any inkling that when areas of the world which once produced abundant food crops become deserts, we're in serious trouble.

As someone who has gardened continuously for a number of years, I've watched it become increasingly more difficult to grow staple vegetable items my grandparents grew with ease--tomatoes, green beans, squash, etc.--each summer.  Just sustaining the growth of the plants, just keeping them alive in the broiling sun and without rain, requires more and more energy.

And when we're talking about row crops that have traditionally fed large local areas--in parts of Arkansas, for instance, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelons, corn--which can't be sustained when there is no rain in the critical early summer months, and the thermometer shoots to well above 100F weeks in advance of what used to be the peak of summer heat--then how is the earth to sustain its population?  Food has to come from somewhere.

And it can hardly be grown with ease in deserts.  And not at all under waves.

The graphic is the latest USDA drought monitor.

No comments: