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Global Warming, Fires, Climate Change, Heat Warnings, & Drought: Summer, 2012…Burnin’ Up! Featured

  • Written by  Amber Lovejoy
When farms turn to deserts… When farms turn to deserts…

Hidden down in the basement, we read by the light of the smallest-watt bulb we can get by with.

The newspapers and farm bulletins are using terms like "second Dust Bowl," and "catastrophic drought" to describe what's happening to Midwest farm states. 

The first Dust Bowl happened in the 1930's, when people used bad farming practices that ruined the soil and rain cycles, resulting in regional devastation and tens of thousands of farm state people becoming environmental refugees who had to flee towering walls of dust.

This summer is so hot that the AC can't handle it, so we pretty much live in the basement.

Ever since February, temperatures nationwide have been much higher than normal. Snow and rainfall non-existent in most places, except when 15 inches of rain falls in one day in Florida.

Outside my town, farmers carried hope into the fields with them at planting time this spring.

Nowhere to run but down into the ground…

The ground was drier than they’d seen it in years. And it was 84 degrees in March, when there should have been snow and frost.

It screwed up the budding cycles. So our region’s multi-million dollar apple, cherry, and peach crop is wiped out this year.

And now it’s early summer when corn should be growing 2-5 inches per day, the spring wheat turning to gold, the alfalfa and soy green and lush.

Instead, the corn is shriveling. The wheat turned dark red and is dying. Alfalfa and soy wilting. These are GMO crops, but still, it’s sad.

No rain in the forecast.

The sky isn’t blue. It’s gray. Air pollution advisory in effect, warning us to stay indoors. People’s eyes are red and hurting.

I fill my birdbath three or more times per day. Cardinals, robins, sparrows, blue jays and others gather around waiting. They count on me now.

The river has dried up. And the ponds.

None of my neighbors has a birdbath.

The birds are breathing our air pollution, dying of thirst, yet still singing their poignant songs…like an opera singer on a crumbling stage in a theater that’s on fire.

Weather, crops and pollution are the talk of the town.

“My brother in Knoxville says its 107 degrees today; the pavement melted.”

“What they’re not talking about in them Colorado and New Mexico fires is why was those forests so dry that they’d of caught fire so easy.”

“My sister is in Los Angeles. Her air has already been dirtier than allowed under federal standards for more than 40 days this year, nearly double what  they had last year. My nephew has severe asthma because of it.”

“I went to Beijing, and then I came back to do sales calls in three big cities here, and the air here was almost as bad as China.”

Spontaneous and worried discussions (some would call them arguments), are frequent. The topic is global warming. Or climate change. Call it what you will, blame it on humans or the sun or Nature herself, but people are pretty sure something bad is happening, and they’re scared.

My conservative neighbors don’t believe in manmade global warming, but they admit humans are causing pollution and loss of rural beauty.

My progressive neighbors side with Al Gore and his “Inconvenient Truth.”

They believe the overwhelming weight of science that ties fossil fuels to atmospheric change that’s creating an undeniably drier, hotter America.

One thing everybody agrees is happening: global paving.

They see farmers going out of business, selling family farms to developers. Smoke-belching bulldozers come in, land is paved over…made ugly with tract houses that sit empty for years.

Nearby, a beautiful farm, farmhouse and a 200-year-old heritage tree was bulldozed to build a shopping center that looks just like all shopping centers look.

Most of that former farmland is now just one big, black parking lot.

The rest is stores selling stuff most people really don’t need.

Last month, they put a big “For Lease” sign in front of the shopping center. And boarded up the grocery store.

I’m having a hard time finding fresh organic fruits and veggies at the health store and farmer’s market. My own garden is struggling in the heat.

Prices for grains and produce have gone up 20% in the last few months.

The heat smothers me like a wooly blanket, the air so thick with exhaust fumes and ozone that I’m coughing all the time.

Thank god we have a basement to hide in. But the Dust Bowl looms outside. Yesterday, I saw a bird fall out of the sky in my front garden. It lay panting on the ground for a few seconds, then died.

And many of my plants are wilting...no matter how much I water them.

My friend puts an ice pack on my head and says to me: “This is what it feels like to be an environmental refugee.”

 © Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2012



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Last modified on Friday, 10 August 2012 14:09

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