I’m reading Timothy Egan’s stark and unsettling story of the Dust Bowl years, The Worst Hard Time, an uneasy feeling keeping me company as I go. “A powerful cautionary tale,” reads the back cover of my paperback edition, and it is, though one has to wonder if any caution is ever heeded when there is still profit to be made by clinging to willful ignorance.
If nothing else, the history of the dust storms of the High Plains throughout the 1930s provides ample evidence — as if we needed more — of the capacity of human activity to radically alter weather cycles. And the basic difference between weather and climate is time. But time is measured differently in Washington, D.C., where nobody reads, and the only cycle that matters is electoral in nature, while taking risks on rising sea levels and drawn-down aquifers is part and parcel of our casino economy, to which we all must pay tribute, sometimes in ashes, sometimes in dust.
So it goes.