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Unbearable weather

Panting chickens

Wilted beets

Dying cabbage

I try to honor a policy of never posting when I’m angry. Once again my anger has got the best of me.

After a cool, wet May, soon it will be three weeks since I’ve had any rain. During this time, day after day, the temperature has gone into the 90s. Today the high was 97F. A storm appeared out of nowhere up in Virginia yesterday evening, and it moved south and gave Surry County to the west of me a nice soaking, but I didn’t get a drop. That alone makes me angry — when I watch thunderstorms on radar that miss me by a few miles.

But it goes beyond that. Weather varies wildly from year to year and month to month, and always has. I know that. But this simply can’t be normal. When I was a child in the Yadkin Valley, I was around crops and gardens every summer. Sure there were dry spells and lost crops. But I don’t remember gardens drying up and dying every year, summer after summer. Because of the hit or miss nature of summer thunderstorms, some people will have good luck and others will have bad luck. But increasingly I’m afraid that no one will be able to garden consistently and successfully without some source of irrigation. I’d happily irrigate from a pond or a stream if I had one near enough. I don’t. I’ll use well water sparingly to revive the celery or keep a newly planted shrub alive, but well water is not the answer. It’s just wrong, and it’s unsustainable.

I expect next year’s weather in the U.S. will be just like this year’s: some places will flood, and others will parch. Some places will dry up, others will blow away.

My beets, cabbages, celery, and kale are done for. If I spritz them with water in the evening, they perk up enough to be harvested in the morning, so it won’t be a total loss. If it rains soon, most of my tomatoes and squash will survive, but the tomato leaves are starting to curl, and the squash is starting to wilt.

This morning Thomas Friedman — who as far as I’m concerned has devolved into a stopped clock when he writes about foreign affairs — has a pretty good column with the headline “The Earth Is Full.” He interviews Paul Gilding, an Australian who recently published a book, The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World. Gilding gathers data on the brutally excessive demands we’re making on the earth’s natural systems.

Gilding is optismistic. He says, “We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

Oh we’re not, are we? I beg to differ. Americans are incomprehensibly thoughtless and ignorant, and they show no signs of rethinking their lifestyles or levels of consumption. Just the other day I gritted my teeth as one ignoramus said to another ignoramus at the gas pump, “We’ve got enough oil for 2,000 years.” The other replied that all we needed to do was get the environmentalists off our backs so we could do more offshore drilling, and that would solve the problem. I know where they hear this stuff: from the shouting heads on television who are paid handsomely to retail corporate and right-wing propaganda. One good thing about the current recession is that consumption is down. But if we ever pull out of this recession, Americans will expect to go right back to their old levels of waste and consumption.

Ken recently quoted Lew Rockwell, a libertarian and chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama, a right-wing propaganda tank. Rockwell said:

“I spritzed some hairspray at the sky (not having enough hair to justify pointing it at me), used up a whole roll of paper towels, turned the refrigerator thermostat down, mixed newspapers with my garbage, filled up my car at an Exxon station, turned on all the lights, and took my daughter to McDonald’s for cheeseburgers, since they still had those nice, clean styrofoam containers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t cold enough to wear my fur hat.”


“Chicken or chicory, elephant or endive, the natural order is valuable only in so far as it serves human needs and purposes. Our very existence is based on our dominion over nature; it was created for that end, and it is to that end that it must be used — through a private-property, free-market order.”

That last idea, of course, is a religious idea, and it comes from America’s dominant religion. And his rabid anti-nature attitude isn’t just ignorant, it glories in its ignorance. The appeal this kind of talk has for the American ignorati and the blindly religious is enormous. And those masses of Americans, of course, are exactly the target the propaganda is designed to reach.

I wish there was some other planet for those people to go live on. Then we might have a chance at saving the Earth.

Our sorry species doesn’t deserve a beautiful water planet like Earth. If we left it to the chickens and the chicory, the elephants and the endive, they’d take care of the Earth. They’re not as stupid as we are.


  1. Trish wrote:

    I agree with you – I don’t think our lifestyle is sustainable. I want to ask people with small kids how they can think of bringing a new life into the world and live the way they do- wasteful, thoughtless.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  2. stevec wrote:

    hard to tell with just the couple of pictures shown but one can’t plant too intensively if you aren’t planning on irrigating. the resilient gardner & gardening when it counts are excellent books on the subject. if its not already too late – pull & sacrifice every other plant so the remaining have more ground moisture available to them. sorry for your losses.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  3. admin wrote:

    SteveC, thank you. That is good advice and similar to the strategies recommended in “Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times.” My plan for what’s left of the cabbage, cauliflower, etc. (it’s getting late for them anyway) is to hope we get rain in the next day or two (the forecast is for 30-40% chance), then salvage what I can after the rain wakes up the cabbages a bit. Then I’ll pull all the cabbage stuff and get the ground ready for sweet potatoes. If it rains by this weekend, I think my tomatoes and squash will be fine. So I’m giving them a little spritzing each morning and evening and hoping the rainfall will improve and that I won’t have to thin them. The long-range forecast for the next two weeks is encouraging, if I can just get by until the next rain.

    The celery (it’s also late for celery) must be harvested within the next few days. There are only six celeries, so I can keep them going with the hose until they’re harvested. I picked the last of the kale this morning, and I’ll finish off the beets within the next two or three days. Then all that early stuff will come out of the ground, leaving the garden to the tomatoes and cucurbits.

    I feel sorry for the farmers. Even the tobacco is wilting.

    Trish, I agree with you. And yet parents with children are some of the most wasteful wrong-thinking of Americans.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  4. mountain madness wrote:

    OK…. As a mother of three boys I have to speak from the other side of the fence… There are a large majority of us parents who have been raising very environmentally aware children… My boys even unplug items from around the house that pull electric while turned off and know which ones they are. They recycle everything that they can… They did a science project on how much water their class could save if they all took a shower rather than a wasteful bath each night, and they are always educating their friends who may not be as concious of their wastefulness with our resources. When they wash my truck they do it in the grass so that the grass can use the excess water. My oldest son wants to build an Earthship to live in once he leaves my home which is a very concious decision for a young man who wants to live as one with the Earth. I think you would be surprised how many of us parents in their 40’s have made it a point to raise our children to think FIRST of the effects our conduct has on the environment before we act. This is one reason I am relocating to Asheville NC where this is the norm rather than not. That whole area is focused in on environment first… comfort second… And then you have the total opposite of me as a parent and you have those who have that entitlement attitude who are always takers and never give back to our resources. I just had to represent those of us who are raising children who will be the fighters for our environment in the coming years and who are trying to change the views/ways already of friends who are blind to the subject… Love the post… I was just in Asheville last week and it was 95 there and only 85 in South Florida???? Strange weather these days…

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  5. admin wrote:

    Bless you, Mountain Madness. Young people like your sons are our only hope.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  6. mountain madness wrote:

    We are bone dry down here in South FLorida. The canal behind my house is totally empty… The boys were able to walk across it to the other side. The snakes and other water critters are all up around the house looking for water or shelter.. It breaks my heart every time the community turns on the sprinklers and drains whats left from the lakes to keep our grass green rather than keep the critters alive…. I have called to voice my thoughts about turning off the sprinklers until we pull out of the drought… They said people paid to live here becuase of the beauty of the neighborhood, we are obligated to keep it this way…. My boys wanted to start a petition and go door to door to save the water critters and present it to the Board of Directors…. As you can tell I’m not one of the favorite members of my HOA….. LOL… Obligated to the Homeowners but not to our environment or the critters neighborhood…. How sick is that…. I can’t wait to get out of this self absorbed community!!! Your way of living is heaven in my eyes….. I admire your accomplishments!!

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  7. mountain madness wrote:

    Well, We did our rain dance and got 3 inches of rain last night…. Sorry it didnt reach NC… We’ll dance longer next time… LOL… It still wasnt enough to make a dent in our drought… Our Governor just declared a State of Emergency in Florida while almost 50,000 acres have burned in the Everglades…. And the HOA had the sprinklers on last night again while it was raining…. I was so mad as I sat on my patio watching it rain while they drain the canel some more…..

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  8. admin wrote:

    Wow. Three inches. Congratulations. We have a decent chance of rain for the next three days, so please keep doing the rain dance!

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

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