You might have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet, and I apologize for not being a better correspondent. Truth is, I thought I would have loads of extra time once the girls went to college, but it seems they need me now as much as they did when they were home. Lulu has been struggling with school, and finally made the decision to take a leave of absence and move back home. She’s got a part time job and she’s thinking about what’s next. Betsy, ever connected to her twin, has also gone through her own change of sorts and is switching her major to “something that will help animals.” Handling the Chronofact that her friend Pierre found has had a profound effect on her. She’s been glued to the FutureCoast Twitter, following the reports, listening to the voicemails, and even spent some time looking for the lost Boston Chronofact. She sends me links she finds on climate change and has joined several campus activist groups. “It’s our future,” she reminds me often, “if we don’t do something, we’ll lose it all.” Now, I know I’m biased, being her mother and all, but it is deeply moving to see how committed she is to all this. What started as a crazy obsession of her mom’s has turned into a calling for her, and she has never been more animated, more active, more ALIVE. She’s recruited Pierre to her cause as well, and seeing the two of them in action makes me feel like we’ve got a shot at changing things. Some people might listen to those voicemails and feel defeated, like the problem is too large and too unwieldy for us to do anything about. Not my Bets–she’s taking it as a call to action, a chance to educate herself and others and to think about and do things that could help turn the tide. She asked me to pass this message on to you. Please understand what a big deal this is for her–she’s never been interested in performing or talking in front of any kind of audience, real or virtual, and even to do this quick video, she insisted that Pierre be there next to her for moral support. I am humbled by her passion.
One of the hot button issues across the country, but especially in New England, right now is flood insurance. The federal program is deeply in debt, thanks to record payouts after devastating storms like Katrina and Sandy. Congress passed legislation in 2012 to eliminate many subsidies and raise rates, but the backlash has been severe and President Obama just signed new legislation that is designed to ease the pain for a while. However, if you live in a flood plain and subscribe to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), your rates will be going up, if not now then shortly. This will certainly be painful for many homeowners, but in a way it’s necessary. There’s a case for not subsidizing the risk of living in a flood plain.
Another issue is that FEMA has redrawn the flood maps that determine who does and doesn’t live in a flood plain, and who is subject to the federal program’s constraints. The areas are getting larger. And with climate change, they may get larger still.
As we face this new reality, there are scenarios coming from the Chronofacts that show us options. Floating houses. Hover Homes. But there are also scenarios where the water wins. Bridge crossings. Broken technology.
Whatever our futures hold, we would be wise to remember the old saying: no matter how high a bird flies, it has to come down for water.
This one struck too close to home.
Despite being raised vegetarian/vegan, I became a pescetarian in college. Paul, my husband, is what he calls “a committed omnivore” and we have had more than one passionate debate about the food we consumed. This was our compromise. I would add fish/seafood, he would give up red meat and poultry. And despite the occasional lapse at a burger restaurant, it’s a lifestyle that has suited us, and then our girls, fairly well.
I have a confession to make. I adore lobster. You’d think the veggie girl would have the most issues with a critter who is cooked by being plunged live into boiling water, and at first I did balk at the idea. Then Paul showed me how he humanely killed “the sea cockroaches” before dipping them in their final bath. I think it was his plan all along to shock me with the most graphic element of my new diet, instead of gently easing me into a plate of fish sticks, or a bowl of clam chowder. Maybe it was all that butter, or the fact that it kind of had a texture like firm tofu, but I found it heavenly sweet and delicious.
Yet now I find myself questioning my choices again, faced as I am with some glimpse to come from this voicemail we just decoded:
The lobsters are almost gone. What I’ve learned to love as a treat will, in some possible future, become a rare relic, a leftover icon of a much more diverse ocean than the one this future will get. Of all the possible futures, this one is more upsetting to me, because I see evidence all around me that this is one of the real, true possibilities we face. Extinction. Loss of ocean habitat. A sea boiled to the point where we may not be able to continue our current commercial fishing practices. Our lives will change. The imperative is how we will respond and adapt.
The immature, selfish part of me is wailing that lobsters should be dinner, not museum exhibits. The more mature me is dusting off her old, dog-eared copy of the Moosewood Cookbook and joining the local CSA in the spring. The choices we make matter. I can’t decide for anyone else, but I can control my own actions. It starts here. We need to save the planet. Come along, or get out of the way.
This rather upsetting article addresses something I hadn’t really thought about before; the pressures of a changing climate on a population stressed to the point of riots, robbery, and much worse. And while some people may argue with the study’s conclusions, it’s not just hot weather we have to worry about.
This voicemail talks about a future crime, and while it may be hard for us to imagine someone getting mugged for a lime, it does relate to this idea of climate stressors on society and individuals.
A collection of cartoons about climate change! Sometimes you just have to laugh instead of cry/rage…
futurewatchergirl runs a tumblr where she makes cool images like this one based on the voicemails we’ve been collecting from the chronofacts. Please follow her on tumblr and send her ideas for future images!
“Displacement” as a theme has been cropping up more and more. We have heard about how rising waters are displacing some people, while a lack of water has others scrambling.
This particularly hurts farmers, which in turn hurts workers and affects food supplies and prices. Be prepared to pay more for your produce this year.
In the future, we could be faced with even more terrain changes. This report from a place called “Burnt Creek” talks about jojoba, mesquite bosques and desertification.
I’m not certain this is the same place mentioned in the voicemail, but there is a Burnt Creek in North Dakota that is currently a lush area near the Missouri River that’s prone to flooding.
How do we get from today’s Burnt Creek to the Burnt Creek of 2041? Is there any way to prevent it?