Droughtland

by wjw on August 20, 2013

The ecosystem I’m living in is slowly dying.  Climate change is just killing it.

We’re in a drought that’s lasted since the early 1990s, with the respite of a few wet years around the turn of the millennium.  (While I’m aware that every dryer-than-normal year isn’t necessarily, officially a “drought,” the cumulative impacts of many dryer-than-normal years can be very discouraging, not to mention devastating.)

This year there was a diminished snowpack in the mountains, and my own area had maybe a millimeter of rain during the first six months of the year.  Bears were invading the towns in unprecedented numbers because there was nothing to eat in their normal range.  Everything green on my property was turning brown and dying.  Even the usually hardy tumbleweeds had barely made an appearance.

That all change in July, with a weird low-pressure system that perched over Texas and sucked in moist air from the north.  (The Midwest went without water, for a change.)  This was followed by our seasonal “monsoons,” big Pacific storms that cross all of Mexico to drop their rain on our parched landscape.  (New Mexico gets half its yearly rainfall in July and August.)  There’s a very pleasant rain going on as I type this.

My property is amazingly green right now.  When I returned after two weeks teaching in Taos, I found three-foot-high weeds where there had been nothing but dust before.  The little patch of grass I call my “lawn,” which was dead and brown despite my watering it, is now lush and verdant.

The desert is this weird green color, a pale unnatural green that appears only during unusually wet years.

But that’s barely a drop in the bucket.  When I was in Taos it rained practically every day, and sometimes all night.  Yet when I went out on hikes the creeks had barely any water in them at all.  The ground was so dry that it sucked up all the moisture before it could run into the creeks.

The reservoirs are still nearly dry.  The Conservancy District is cutting off irrigation to the farmers because there just isn’t any.  (Though driving today, I saw that the acequia madre is full.  Maybe that policy changed while I wasn’t looking.)

I’ve been watching my country die for nearly twenty years now.

Pray for rain.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Esebian August 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Praying never helps. Cannot help.

Only massive, well-funded civil engineering projects and extensive common-sense legislative reform will allow us to start tackling the problem.

High time Texans and New Mexicans take it to the street

Rob Wright August 22, 2013 at 1:12 am

Same here in the Sacramento Mountains. Lots of slow, soaking rains, often 8/10’s -3 inches a go. It’s been years since I have seen the mountains this lush.

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