A rainy, cool, autumnal morning. We had close to two inches of rain overnight and the landscape responded by turning a lush green. In the wildflower garden there are renewed splashes of yellow from members of the sunflower family.
Yesterday was the final day for summer rules at most beaches and this past week we, and many others, took the opportunity to enjoy sun and wave, and have a last, surprisingly good, dinner at our local beach snack shop. In addition to beach food, “The bucket” has great ice cream at half the price of the ice cream shop just across the bridge in the village. While we will miss summer’s warmth and the pleasures of The Bucket, we’re glad we can once again bring our pets to frolic on the beach and enjoy the water.
We remain in extreme drought, even after a couple of downpours during the past two weeks, and before this soaking rain our deficit for the year was close to 10 inches, making us a Federal disaster area. More rain is promised for today and tonight and we are hopeful this storm will have a significant impact on the drought.
Like many “natural” disasters our current situation is intersectional; specifically it is amplified by stress on the water supply as a result of overpopulation and over use. We humans seem ill equipped to understand problems with multiple, interacting causes, preferring simple analysis and solutions. Of course, fixing one aspect of a problem while not addressing other facets often makes the problem more challenging long term.
A few weeks ago a team of climate modelers released a study saying that climate change will have minimal impact on species extinctions for at least a couple of hundred years. This study was hailed by the climate modeling community as great news. The biological sciences community, on the other hand, tore the study to shreds, citing its failure to take into account the many other factors leading to mass extinctions. (As it turns out, the study had a vastly misleading base line for extinctions and the real extinction rate is much higher than modeled, and accelerating; a clear case of specialist myopia.)
The problem of species extinction is intersectional; while climate has a large impact on vulnerable species, loss of habitat, the use of herbicides and pesticides, over hunting/fishing, ocean acidification, and the pet market are all major threats to a wide range of species. For species already struggling to survive, climate change becomes catastrophic.
Predictably, with all the focus right now on climate change (we must address it), a host of other threats to wildlife and human civilization are generally ignored. Outside of nuclear war or an asteroid strike, the existential threats to us are multifaceted and mutually reinforcing. It is useful to remember that while the Huns may have finally brought down the Roman civilization, many other issues prepared the way.
For the moment the rain has largely stopped. We live in a neighborhood with quite a bit of open space and relatively little asphalt (many driveways are shell or stone) so the rain that does fall is mostly able to seep into the ground rather than simply running off. Of course that only helps if there is rain and if the aquifer and reservoirs are not being depleted by overuse. This summer we’re being reminded that our water shortage is intersectional and that water is precious and must be treated as such, otherwise there isn’t enough to go around.