If Mother Earth is trying to tell us something about our tenancy here, she has lately been whispering rather than shouting. But we shouldn’t mistake her meaning.
In early September 2016, Hurricane Hermine spared our Gulf and Atlantic coasts major devastation. But, to the attentive, Hermine demonstrated what might otherwise have been lost in a more ferocious storm: with rising sea-levels endemic, it will take less and less outside intervention to make these areas uninhabitable.
In about the same time frame, in Colorado, full reservoirs from an above-average snow season got us through a drought-stricken summer. But, to the attentive, the situation demonstrated how little it would take to tilt the balance toward a major crisis.
Climate scientists advise us not to be distracted by big-weather events, no single one of which can be conclusively attributed to climate change. Rather, we should keep our eye on matters, like rising sea-levels and long-term droughts, that provide slowly-accumulating evidence, more conclusively linked to global warming.
In the debate over mankind’s influence on climate change, what is demonstrably happening in the air, in the water, and on whatever land is left to us, is all that really matters. And it is when and how we abandon homes that can no longer sustain us, where we seek refuge, and how we rebuild our lives that will determine our fate.
Here in America, decisions will need to be made. East Coasters will have to start thinking about what they’ll do and where they’ll go if … when … the Liberty Bell is a National Maritime Park exhibit, a safe Senate seat is a raft, and Boston is Boston Harbor.
Seventy years ago, California would have been the favored destination of these refugees. But, if the drought there continues, the roads will be blocked by reverse Okies fleeing a new Dust Bowl.
Colorado, where I live, could be a popular alternative destination — pleasant climate, beautiful scenery, booming economy, and (at least under current conditions) enough water for all … barely. But, even absent a natural drought, it wouldn’t take too many net immigrants to tip the balance toward a man-made disaster.
If we Coloradans don’t build a wall (which I proposed once I had moved here), we too may be forced onto the road. Where would we go? Maybe Detroit. There’s a lot of cheap real estate, and it’s 600 feet above sea level, with plenty of fresh water and no tornados or hurricanes. Much the same is true of almost any Rust Belt city within a hundred miles of a Great Lake.
This is not to mention how the rest of the world will fare. If the current migration situation is any indication, Europe, the Middle East and Africa are going to have a tough time of it. But that’s their problem. We shouldn’t let ourselves be distracted.
Mother, we are truly sorry about how we’ve treated you. But it would be really helpful if you could, for the time being, spare us major natural disasters and possibly even sort of clear the way, like with the Israelites and the Red Sea. At least, then, we’d have time to get a bag packed and the front door closed.