Dust Bowl

Dust Bowl
Originally uploaded by heinemanfleck.

It’s reasonable to think that most of the folks in sub-Saharan Africa didn’t celebrate the release of the latest grim Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report by heading out to the ballpark last night. But that’s what Lissa and I did, the beneficiary of a pair of free tickets to see our Isotopes play Omaha out at The Lab.

Given the stark headlines in the morning paper – Global Warming Heralds Slow Impending Doom, or words to that effect – it was fitting that L suggested extra layers, and brought a blanket. It was 44 degrees at game time, with a howling east wind blowing in from right that kept more than a few fly balls in the ballpark and more than a few fans up in the clubhouse drinking their beers rather than in their seats watching baseball. “Football weather?” my colleague Randy Harrison wrote in this morning’s paper. “It was more suitable for outdoor ice hockey.”

This morning, as I write this, it’s snowing here – proof that my colleagues’ routine taunt is true: that by writing about drought, I can make it rain, and that by writing about global warming, I can bring on cold weather. L and I felt the double whammy last night as we sat at the ballpark, huddled beneath the blanket, rain spitting down through the klieg lights.

It was storytelling luck that the two particular pieces of news highlighted in the image above right came together on the same day: the short term seasonal runoff forecast showing a snowpack shattered by dry March heat, and a long term suggestion that climate change is pushing us in that direction on a permanent basis. Richard Pipes’ photos of cracked mud and the bathtub ring at New Mexico’s largest reservoir tell the story far better than any of my words. Pictures work well for cognitive misers, I think.

Still, in terms of the theme of the disparity between first worlders’ and third worlders’ economic ability to adapt to climate change, I think the fact that L and I were able to traipse off to a ballgame on a Friday evening carries some metaphorical message. Looking out across New Mexico’s potential futures, as I understand the science and the development trends, it’s likely that a century from now there’s still going to be a robust city here and very likely baseball, or whatever is its 22nd century successor. There will be some unpleasantness between now and then as we confront the conflicts inherent in both trends. But very few of us and our descendants are likely to starve in the interim. Not so sure about the folks in sub-Saharan Africa.

I am sure, though, that if folks in sub-Saharan Africa did get tickets to a ballgame last night, they are not likely to have been so profligate as to leave in the sixth inning, as L and I did. That’s how I imagine the different between the first and third worlds – easier for us to waste without worry.

‘Topes won, 3-2.

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  1. Pingback: Dustbowl in the Southwest? at Live From Silver City

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