Feb. 18: Stopped in at the gas station this morning to get a cup of coffee, and the clerk and I chatted a bit about Texas and the weather.
It’s 10 above zero here in Woodbury, this morning, a nice day in recent terms. Not so nice down south. For us, 10 is fairly normal weather this time of year; for them, not so.
We have a nephew and family who lives in Houston, so we get updates: power outage, worry about pipes freezing, etc. Not too many years ago it was the floods – they lost their home in that one. I remember being at a conference in suburban Houston in a memorable heavy rain in November, 1998. The rain never seemed to stop; they trucked us out when we about to become an island in the lake.
“Here comes the climate change lecture” I can hear someone saying.
But a reminder is appropriate, not that we should need it. Every year one incident after another; one place or another. Change is happening, at an increasing rate. Most everywhere.
We like to pretend that these are just normal; well, I guess they are…a “new normal”. We ignore them at our peril.
We city slickers, in a northern interior state, can be a little smug today. We’re built for cold weather – the infrastructure and the services are designed for what Texas is going through – our normal..
I remember a mid-winter visits to my parents, who lived year around in the Rio Grande Valley near Brownsville TX for about 10 years in the 1970s and 80s.
Back then, on occasion a norther came through, temps low enough to threaten the oranges or such. Houses were not built for cold weather, which lasted a couple of days. One visit, even for we visitors from the frigid north, San Benito was COLD. It got to freezing level.
Lots has happened globally in the last 40-45 years; and its not that we haven’t been warned.
Planning for infrastructure of all kinds needs to factor in the new normal in all areas including our own. And new behaviors as well. It is not too late to learn, now, and stop pretending this will pass.
I wish the folks well in the affected area. We’ll still get a blizzard or two between now and spring, which Garrison Keillor memorably said, might not come til June, but usually is peeking in on Minnesota by the time April arrives.
And then there will be “sunny days” as I remember from the Paul Simon, 1973 tune. We’re an integral part of this environment, and we’re not in control. Let’s use this as a learning opportunity…and don’t set it aside.
POSTNOTE FEB. 19: Commentary about the outage.