"Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning" went the old saw. We learned it at Goomp's salty old knee way back when he was teaching us the ways of the sea. But this morning's strikingly pink sky (East Boston in the middle ground, Boston skyline in the distance from the sidewalk in front of our house) gave way to clear blue sunny skies all day long in Chelsea by the Sea. Not a storm cloud nor even a fair-weather cloud in sight. 'Must have been our own projection of stormy developments along the Gulf Coast -- the "psychological landscape" we recall from one of those wordy French theorists we read in the original back in undergraduate days.
It takes a disaster. Before 9/11, the nation would never have had the political will to send our military to Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. Before Katrina, the nation would never had the political will to engage the decades-long deferred debate over what to do about the Crescent City's sinking futures. Who among us THEN would have dreamed of giving our blogging all, first to Flood Relief and then to PorkBusters?
"A number of boats were knocked loose from their moorings in Lake Charles and tossed against a railroad track near the centre of town," said this BBC caption accompanying an article surprisingly unsympathetic to global warming hysteria. Our hearts wrench at the sight of these two tempest-tossed sloops, each about the same size as the sweet little Redwing 30 that took us down east, to Fairhaven and Nantucket in our salad days. We had a mooring and two anchors at WinthropYacht Club during a hurricane scare that never developed into anything in the Seventies. It's not as bad as leaving your kitties behind, but it's painful, even so.
Now there's Rita, and it's not the eyes of Texas upon us but our own eyes upon Texas. We'd never thought one way or the other about Houston. Our conception of Texas was at least as fantasmagorical as that of those foreigners -- including Osama's number two, Ayman Zawahiri -- who were reputed to see all Americans in terms of the glitzy, over-sexed characters of the "Dallas" TV series of the Seventies. Our own image of Texas was all about cattle and oil and the explosive marital mix between easterner Elizabeth Taylor and oilman Rock Hudson, together with all the other figures of various economic and ethnic backgrounds that animated George Stevens's larger-than life 1956 epic "Giant." Pathetic, huh? What a thrill to see grownups like Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R. Texas) comin' on TV to talk about what needs to be done in the wake of the latest assault by Mother Nature on the state she represents.
Googling Houston a bit before Rita landed ashore yesterday, we found the President's father, G.H.W. Bush, had long held the imperatives of Mother Nature close to his heart against town fathers and developers deep in the heart of Texas who would have turned Houston's natural streams into concrete channels:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers executed a flood mitigation project for Brays Bayou, which required clearing out all riparian vegetation and straightening channels in favor of a concrete waterway. After the lining of White Oak Bayou with concrete, local residents were in outrage and were determined to prevent the similar lining of Buffalo Bayou.
One such advocate was Terry Hershey. She was appalled by the channeling and concrete lining designs because they would change the natural meanders and ecological composition of the Bayou. Vowing to preserve the integrity and wildlife of the Bayou, Hershey took her case to congress with then congressman, George H. W. Bush. Terry and Bush successfully thwarted the city’s flood control plan through a bulwark of federal opposition.
Then there's the disingenuous global-warming "argument," always at the ready to bash the younger Bush. We were stunned to see the BBC coming out in favor of reasoned discourse on the issue [via Arts & Letters Daily]
But is it global warming? What is the evidence that the growing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are changing weather systems in such a way that hurricanes become more powerful, or more frequent?
It's very dangerous to explain Rita or Katrina through global warming, because we have always had strong hurricanes in the USA -- the strongest one on record dates back to 1935.
If the BBC can tack against the wind and tide of willful disinformation, there may be hope yet for the rest of us seekers of wisdom and truth.