Discover more from Hill Heat
When it all comes crashing
The final stages could be more problematic than previously thought
I took great advantage of the Independence Day recess to celebrate my birthday and wedding anniversary, and to attend the beautiful wedding of Hill Heat contributor John Price Kepner, the author of the Climate Politics Almanac. We were fortunate to encounter friendly weather; a brief wedding-day hailstorm offered a frisson of existential danger on the horizon, with a rainbow to mark its passing.
And now, back to the world we share, howsoever imperfectly.
Hill Heat is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
PRESENTED BY TRUE STORIES
As the impressively unpopular President Joe Biden flies off to the Middle East for petro-diplomacy with the pro-dismemberment Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, Congress returns from its two-week break to continue the January 6th hearings and hold several hearings on the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Like Biden, the geriatric Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer may be constitutionally incapable1 of stopping the Republican Party’s crashing and burning of our democracy, but let no-one say the Democrats are failing to document the catastrophe.
And climate activists have announced their plan to shut down the annual Congressional Baseball Game on July 28th. “We refuse to watch a member of Congress play baseball while the world burns,” explains Jamie DeMarco, federal policy director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
WHO PUT LILY HEVESH IN CHARGE? “Japan, Italy, Norway, Iran and Finland are a few of the latest nations to see heat records fall like dominoes” in June.
Hundreds of giant sequoias, thousands of years old, in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, are under siege by a wildfire which exploded on Friday and continues to grow with little containment.
And the National Interagency Fire Center expects the Western wildfires to get much worse in the coming months. “No matter which way you slice it, it is going to be bad,” NIFC’s Jim Wollmann told Gabrielle Canon, who is on the Water Knife beat.
Severe storms ripped through the nation amid a dangerous heat wave last week—as the heat continues to broil Texas, its deregulated, fossil-dependent electric grid is on the brink of collapse again. Texans went out and bought fireworks to celebrate the freedom of drought conditions and brush fires.
Days of torrential rain in Sydney, Australia “have caused dams to overflow and waterways to break their banks, bringing a fourth flood emergency in 16 months to parts of the city of 5 million people.” “For locals of Greater Sydney, flooding has become a recurring nightmare.”
The fears of Po-side humans were always focused on floods, but suddenly centuries of architecture and literature seem redundant because we now we have exactly the opposite fear: not an excess, but a lack, of water. Even the mountain where the Po rises, Monviso, is crumbling as the glacial glues give way. My hike to the source was interrupted every hour by the roar of a small rockslide and the puff of smaragdite dust. Despite the damp mosses of the Alpine tundra, the Po is slimmer every year, less a drunken father now than an absent one.
On July 3rd, that heat caused the collapse of the until-now-quite-permanently-frozen Marmolada glacier of Punta Rocca in the Dolomites, killing 11 hikers who were traversing Italy’s largest glacier. Giovanni Baccolo, a young Italian glaciologist who deeply loves the ice, admitted that scientists were surprised by this glacier’s sudden collapse. “Glaciologists will need to take more care with these dying glaciers, whose final stages could be more problematic than previously thought,” he said in an on-the-nose metaphor for our collective future. Angela Giuffrida writes:
Known as the Queen of the Dolomites, the Marmolada has lost more than 80% of its volume over the last 72 years, with the speed of its retreat hastening over the last decade. Italian scientists warned in 2020 that the glacier could disappear within 15 years because of global heating.
Louis Sahagún writes in Los Angeles Times about the mind-boggling scale of California’s almond crop, with an expected harvest of 2.8 billion pounds this year, even as “about 1.3 billion pounds of unsold almonds are still sitting in piles at processing and packing facilities.” And “to grow a pound of almonds requires about 1,900 gallons of water.” You can do the math.2 Jessica Gable, a spokeswoman for Food and Water Watch, says the obvious:
“California’s climate is irrevocably changing amid the worst drought in recorded history. We’re risking extreme water scarcity unless we transition to growing crops far less water intensive than almonds.”
CNN’s Stephanie Elam has an excellent rundown of how California and Nevada officials are grappling with the water crisis, including giving the “water rights holders” massive payouts to not drink everyone dry.
THE HOUSE THIS WEEK:
The House is bringing the $800 billion National Defense Authorization Act to the floor—among the hundreds of amendments submitted are Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) paean to eco-fascism and Rep. Bill Keating’s (D-Mass.) plan to add climate officers to all of our embassies.
On Tuesday, Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on the state of public transit. Ridership is still only 60 percent of its pre-pandemic high, but billions of dollars in federal funding are providing hope for the future.
On Wednesday, there are hearings on nuclear waste cleanup, the state of the aviation industry, the federally subsidized forestry industry, and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Calif.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) will preside over extremely different takes on energy prices, and Secretary Deb Haaland testifies on the Interior Department budget before Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) subcommittee. The Senate environment committee has a hearing on air-pollution monitoring legislation, with WEACT’s Dana Johnson up against theocratic Texan natural gas lobbyist Jason Isaac among the witnesses, and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) will be marking up his Climate Adaptation Science Centers Act among other legislation.
For all I know, this might be my last night / That’s how it goes, there’s no one / I would rather be lying beside / When it all comes crashing . . .
As Bill McKibben says: Be the backlash.
There’s plenty they could do Constitutionally.
Here to help: 1 acre-foot is about 325851 gallons. Too bad we’re not on the metric system!