Aug-tober and Other Curious Things

August 18, 2012

Missouri Dept. of Conservation

For all the complaining I’ve done recently about the heat and drought here in southwest Missouri where I live, the last two weeks have been wonderful. We’ve had a series of cold fronts move through, dropping daily highs to those more normal for August – mid eighties to low nineties. The nights, however, have hovered in the mid fifties to low sixties, more reminiscent of mid October, as our nightly weatherpersons have pointed out. We are – for the next week or so, at least – in Aug-tober.

It has been a little strange. The rains that accompanied the cold fronts have not been enough to bring us out of drought status, but they have been enough – along with my watering the garden a couple of times a week – to get the small fall garden I planted off to a good start and thoroughly confuse the tomato and cantaloupe plants. They have started blooming again after having finally given up producing anything in the heat. With the daytime temperatures due to rise back into the mid to high nineties and nighttime temperatures back into the low seventies by the end of next week, I’ll be curious to see if either the tomatoes or the melons produce anything useful again as we race toward the first hard frost that usually arrives halfway through the real October. Even the skunk seems to have been tricked into starting its semi-annual journey back to wherever it goes during cold weather (after having devoured the second of my two nearly ripe melons last week). Bon voyage, my stinky little nemesis. See you in whatever passes for spring, next year.

Of course, the odd race going on in my little garden, this year, is a smaller metaphor for the larger and far more serious race between climate change, with its destabilization of regional and local weather patterns around the world, and our globalized food system. I do find it curious that, with all the national press time dedicated to the drought, the loss of so much of our corn crop, rising food prices globally and its relationship to climate change, none of that press covers the dire need to adapt and localize that food system. But, that is the nature of this race, I suppose. Admit only as much as you must and ignore the rest until the next catastrophe. Then, admit a little more. That’s what makes it such a curious and one-sided race.

Not unlike the curious race for the very fossil fuels that have pushed us into climate change. For all the talk, as a nation, about 100 years of new fossil fuels to come, we have increased our dependence of Saudi oil by twenty percent this year. And, in this election season, the administration is dinkering with the idea of drawing from the strategic petroleum reserves to lower gasoline prices as the cost of retrieving that oil continues to rise. Just the other day, I read a breathless article describing the “marvels” of obtaining oil off the coast of Brazil by drilling down over 5,000 feet through the salt layer – a new world record, if I remember correctly. Undoubtedly, a new record for the cost of such desperate measures, too.

For the most part, the oil companies no longer deny climate change is occurring. But, as Rex Tillerson, of Exxon, assured us a month or so ago, technology will save us. (I cannot help but wonder when all this marvelous technology is going to kick in.) And so, that curious race of denial continues.

Bringing us to that third and – to me – most curious race, that of the global economy against the increasing costs of the other two races. For a world so totally dependent on cheap fossil fuels and a stable means of food production, the need for denial must be a particularly heavy handicap in that curious race. Yet, on it goes.

I am nearing seventy-two. Given the excruciatingly slow nature of collapse, even if I live another twenty-five years or so, I will not live to see the end of these races. Thus, I am left with only my own curiosity as I work to adapt my gardening and my lifestyle to the realities of both that slow race to collapse and the aging process. I can’t deny the end of my race, but I will, I suppose, continue to indulge my curiosity about our long descent as we move from Aug-tober into Sep-vember here at home.

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12 Responses to Aug-tober and Other Curious Things

  1. witsendnj says:

    Oh, I don’t know. I tend to think we have ring-side seats at the finish line. Don’t discount the non-linear nature of collapse, the tipping points and black swans – and the unpredictable response as people wake up and realize the waiter is standing at the banquet table with the bill, impatiently tapping his foot. You may witness the denouement after all.

    • theozarker says:

      Hey gal, how are things up your way? You may be right. I’m trying to prepare for either ending. But they sure do seem to have a lot of CYA laws in place trying to sidestep all those black swans and tipping points. I would have thought the duct tape and bailing wire would have given out by now, but there they are, a little raggedy and worn, but the game goes on.

  2. witsendnj says:

    Ha, I had to look up CYA. Google is a wonderful thing. I will miss it when the grid goes down! I guess you know that Guy McPherson (http://guymcpherson.com/2012/06/were-done/ and in video here: http://guymcpherson.com/2012/08/presenting-in-auckland/) is expecting a sudden shift by 2030, which is also the year predicted by the updated Club of Rome for rapid population decline: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Looking-Back-on-the-Limits-of-Growth.html

    CYA laws work for the 1%, but are as nothing when up against Nature’s laws, the only ones that really count. I’m seeing a lot of ozone damage and dead trees but lately I often think, given the speed of melting and methane release in the Arctic, perhaps it doesn’t even matter: http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/asi-2012-update-9-stormy-weather.html

    • theozarker says:

      Heheh on CYA. I read Guy’s article last month. I’m not quite there yet, but I certainly do worry that we’re getting there much faster than was anticipated. I just meant that the 1% is very adept at propping things up so BAU can go on. But you’re right. Nature will have the last word, one way or the other. And the rapidity of the ice melts and the release of methane have me worried, too, that we have too little time before the tipping point is reached. We are certainly in grave peril and the reliance on technology by TPTB is not reassuring at all.

  3. graveday says:

    Well, fifteen minutes into the first video he mentions five positive feed-back loops any one of which could possibly lead to human extinction.
    So much for duct tape and baling wire. Nothing positive and not much feed in those loops that inexorably arise as loopy deniers and technofixers whistle past the melting ice.
    I stopped at fifteen minutes, but I’ll go back for more punishment later.

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Grave, I can’t download videos on this slow old computer, but there certainly seem to be enough tipping points coming at us to do the trick. Not sure what to do about it, except for what I’m doing. But there are times when I don’t see any way we’ll avoid extinction the way we’re going.

  4. graveday says:

    What you are doing is exactly what my wife says we should be doing even if there were zilch climate change or oil depletion. But since there is those latter elements, and more, what you are doing is even more an act of grace.

    • theozarker says:

      Hey Grave, I thought you were your wife, or do you both post under that name? Anyway, your wife is right. We should all be trying to live within nature’s bounds even if there were no climate change or oil depletion. This is the only earth we’ve got, after all.

  5. freethnkr1965 says:

    “…my stinky little nemesis.” Hahaha! Brilliant.

    • theozarker says:

      Hi freethnkr, in the 10 years I’ve lived here, I’ve only seen the little critter twice. I know when it has passed by, or crawled underneath the house for an hour or so, only by its odor (or the tuft of white fur left on the lower garden gate where he snuck through to eat my melons), so I’ve just come to think of it as my stinky little nemesis. I think my house must be a way station or something. I’d actually worry if I didn’t smell it on its way to and fro each year. 😀

  6. graveday says:

    No, my wife would never post under ‘graveday’, heh. I use her facebook page from time to time though, to her great chagrin, which makes me her stinky nemesis.

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