the way we live now

In my little town, the average temperature so far this month is 5.7 degrees. Things are moving slow. It’s hard to get up, get out, get around, which you’d expect. What’s different this year is depth and duration, (we’re setting a bunch of cold records), and the fact that this winter follows last winter, which was awful in two bad bursts – an ice storm in late December and a torrent of snow in early January.

A lot of us joked we had weather-PTSD after last winter, so we were edgy, quick to run out of patience this year. The joke is not funny now, as this winter proves terrible in its own long-distance-endurance-contest way. We haven’t had major breakdowns yet, mostly because we haven’t had a lot of snow this month. But you wonder: for at least a decade, winter was a two and a half month inconvenience, with some thaws thrown in. Last year and this, it’s a four month pummeling – half of November, all of December, January and February and the first part of March. Our homes, vehicles, stuff aren’t hardened to the new normal, and I have to believe we get another year or two down the road and some large costs – in collapsed roofs, broken plows and the like – will become all too obvious.

There’s a decent case to be made linking this to climate change. It’s not conclusive, but it’s worth paying attention to. Neither of the national news channels I watch has done so; at this point I don’t expect much from CNN, but CBS, which devoted the top three stories tonight to the weather, really should do better. If you’re going to talk about the weather in apocalyptic terms, the public deserves some sort of explanation for why we’ve arrived at this point.

I assume the snow and cold kept interest in this to a minimum, but I found it to be the most frightening item of the last couple of weeks. We appear to be a lock for a “mega-drought,” (which is as bad as it sounds) in the southwest and the midwest, and which lasts for a decade or longer. We’re not just talking New Mexico and Arizona here – we’re talking a wide swath of 17 states, including much of the corn belt. Read this, and consider how civilizations fail.





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