The only thing that is going to actually make the unresponsive and uninterested American population pay attention to climate change is an enormous and growing ecological disaster in their own country. Well, for better or worse, the current drought is going to accomplish that.
Carey Gillam, As drought persists, town dries up and states scramble to save every drop of water
“Everyone is wondering whether this dry weather is the new norm … or an anomaly that will soon pass,” said Barney Austin, director of hydraulic services for INTERA Inc, an Austin, Texas-based geoscience and engineering consulting firm. “We all hope for the latter, but it’s hard to tell.”
The signs of distress and the search for answers are most prevalent in the Plains, where historic drought blankets much of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Texas.
This month the small Oklahoma farming town of Wapanucka lost water completely when the spring-fed wells the community relies on ran dry. Officials closed the town’s school and residents had to do without tap water until the town could run a line to a neighboring water district.
In Texas, state lawmakers are pushing for a $2 billion fund to finance water infrastructure projects as numerous communities face their own shortages. But it won’t be soon enough to help rice farmers, who were told this month that there is not likely to be enough water to irrigate their fields this spring.
Meanwhile, in the big wheat-growing state of Kansas, penalties for exceeding water use limits for irrigation were doubled this month and Gov. Sam Brownback has launched a task force to come up with strategies to counter statewide shortages.
“It’s going to be dry again this year,” said Lane Letourneau, water appropriations manager for the Kansas Agriculture Department. “We consider this a really big deal.”
The drought is ongoing and growing. It will reach from the West Coast, across the high prairies, the Southeast, and the prime agricultural heartland of the Midwest. Already, over 60% of the continental US is in moderate to severe drought, and there is every likelihood that we are headed into continued dry times ahead.
Have you heard anything about climate change forming a major aspect of Obama’s second term? This could be that out-of-left-field catastrophe that defines his legacy, like Bush and Katrina.
But the postnormal is here, changing everything, and most people aren’t even aware that we’ve moved into a completely new era, and we can’t go back. The climate will *never* go back to 20th century averages, at least not for hundreds or thousands of years.
But a story like this one, from Reuters, US News, and NBC, make no mention of that possibility. Not one climate scientist is interviewed, just conversations with Julie Wallis, the city water clerk of Wapanucka OK, where the city lost water service completely this month. She said,
We are not going to be the only ones who this happens to. It’s coming.
No, Julie, it’s here already.