I hate to come off as a whiner. And I know it’s unreasonable for me to be unhappy with the weather we’re getting. In the face of snow in Rome, sub-zero temperatures across most of the US, and torrential rains in the Northwest, it seems petty to complain about what my local microclimate is experiencing.
Overnight lows in the thirties and daytime highs in the sixties probably sounds heavenly to a large part of the world’s population right now.
Typing with cold, stiff fingers sucks, and I feel guilty cranking the heat up, but truthfully, the temperatures aren’t what I feel compelled to complain about.
No, it’s the precipitation. Or rather, the lack of it.
All the signs say we’re heading for another drought summer. And then we get teases like this week. We were supposed to get rain. Maybe not enough to restock the reservoirs and fill out the snowpack, but at least a gesture in the direction of liquidity.
Sunday night’s forecast called for rain all week. Scattered showers, mostly, but every day. So what happened?
Yesterday we had clear skies most of the day. Around 4:30 it clouded up and we got maybe ten minutes of not-very-hard rain. And now the forecast is for sun today and clouds-but-no-significant-rain the rest of the week.
Not only is this no way to run a railroad, it’s no way to run any other business. If I could figure out who’s in charge, I’d call and file a complaint. Or, since this isn’t the first time, perhaps I should explore legal options. There are, after all, laws against this sort of bait and switch operation.
Seriously, though, this sort of brief, rainy interlude is cause for concern. We’re going to have a dry summer, not just this year, but most years going forward. The State Water Resources Control Board is considering permanent bans on watering median strips, doing any watering within forty-eight hours of a rainfall, and washing cars without a shut-off spigot on the hose.
Those are small measures, but they promote a “save water” attitude. Multiple short rains, such as we seem to be getting now, have an opposite effect. The little voice in the back of your head saying, “We’ve had so many rainy days, how can we be short on water?” doesn’t encourage conservation.
So, whoever’s running the rain spigots, quit playing games. Either give us all the rain we need, or don’t give us any.
It seems increasingly clear that we’re in another one of those “extinction events”, that have changed our planet’s ability to support certain kinds of life something like five previous times in history. This one is man-made, though.
Our species is very, very smart, but our ability to affect our environment has outstripped our wisdom- not to mention our self-preservation instinct. Because we’re very adaptable, and have opposing thumbs and all, maybe we’ll survive the coming catastrophe in some form, and learn to be smart enough to care for our life support system. Maybe. I wouldn’t care to bet on it.
In the meantime, though, things are going to continue to be very interesting, over the next couple of hundred years. Much as I love my life, I’m just as glad I won’t be here for most of it. There is such a thing as too interesting.
I’ve seen it suggested that we’ve reached the point where our ability to use those opposing thumbs has become an evolutionary liability. We’re too good at adapting the environment to us, and we’re losing the ability to adapt to the environment. If so–but note that I think the argument is questionable–it doesn’t bode well for our ability to handle a major shift in the environment.