Riffing Off . . .

. . . this tweet by Emptywheel, I’m sitting waiting for locusts myself, which I imagine right now, as I type are descending on Don’s ranch, if not in fact, at least figuratively. It’s damnably hot here in Texas and what little rain we had last week is evaporating away from the high, dry winds blowing up from the Mexican Deserts. We don’t usually have winds this time a year blowing from the South West and it’s eerie, foreboding.

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • Conditions here are unprecedented, at least in my lifetime here in Austin. I live in a river bottom for Pete’s sake, and lately– like three years running– my peppers and tomatillos can’t withstand the drought and heat without serious help. I can’t shake the dreadful feeling that Austin is going to turn to desert, and the margin of bosque that remains along the river is going to exclude my place.

    I chose this spot for its long-term demographic prospects (and its pleasantness to live in), but now it seems the climatic implications of our profligacy could sweep it all away.

  • The Austin area has had 12-16 inches of rain less than normal this year (about 50% of normal). But a quick look at the archives seems to show that there are many years in which the numbers are similar… 2005, 2008, for example… What am I missing?…

  • There have been awful droughts in the past but most of us are too young to have experienced them.

    05 lasted into most of 06 but yearly numbers are skewed by deluges at the end of the year (06). 08 was nasty–it began in fall of 07 and became the driest and hottest 18 month period in recorded history.

    The current version hasn’t lasted long (yet) but the intensity so far rivals any past event on record. Only time will tell where this ends.

    We had a break from drought in late 06 and early 07, another last year, but it appears to me that long term averages are changing. Slight changes in the average, when the average is just barely tolerable, mean big changes in the landscape.

    As we speak, fires threaten Los Alamos, New Mexico, home to a nuclear testing facility. I’ve a brother that lives near Ruidoso. He tells me the only thing stopping that town from burning is a spark.

    As for the locusts, so far we haven’t had many (we did in 06). With the recent shower, that may be next on the list. I saw a bunch of youngsters in my garden last week.

    I did inhale.

  • …in the coverage of extreme ecological events it’s overwhelmingly the ones that threaten big flashy things like nuclear facilities appear to attract the attention of the tier one commentariat. Folks are going to be a lot more affected by the low proportion of seeded area this year in the many wet zones than they are by their nuclear fears. Not sexy enough I guess.

    “For the most part, when people discuss international law they are using it as a tool in a broader policy debate…. Very few people, it turns out, care about international law for its own sake.” ~ David Bosco

  • the Mississippi watershed this year is one that won’t play out till the fall when prices begin their inexroable rise in the grocery store. Excessive rain ruins crops just as drought does, although in different ways.

    Bad decisions make good stories.

  • Slight changes in the average, when the average is just barely tolerable, mean big changes in the landscape.

    Throughout history, steppe-dwelling herders lived in a fragile ecosystem; not enough water for farming but enough for migratory herds. It only took a little rain to support that lifestyle, but it only took a little bit less to make it impossible. There have been massive migrations and civilizations have fallen when the rains stop.

    Retiring Mainframe maven, active curmudgeon, poet, writer.

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