Since the days of Huey Long, in the 1930s, Louisiana has shrunk by more than two thousand square miles. If Delaware or Rhode Island had lost that much territory, the U.S. would have only forty-nine states. Every hour and a half, Louisiana sheds another football field’s worth of land. Every few minutes, it drops a tennis court’s worth. On maps, the state may still resemble a boot. Really, though, the bottom of the boot is in tatters, missing not just a sole but also its heel and a good part of its instep. The problem is climate change and the actions of the Mississippi.
Atmospheric warming, ocean warming, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, deglaciation, desertification, eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to runoff from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life and death of animal life from lack of oxygen) – these are just some of the byproducts of our species’ success, and they show up most notably in the delta area of the Mississippi river. The most recent equivalent disaster was the asteroid that ended the reign of the dinosaurs sixty-six million years ago. Humans are producing no-analogue climates, no-analogue ecosystems, a whole no-analogue future. There are so many of us—nearly eight billion— that solving a problem so huge seems impracticable. (a small section of a New Yorker article, 27 March 2019).
Meanwhile, one would have had to be asleep for months, like Rip van Winkle, if you have not been aware of the recent hurricanes, the flooding , the weird and increasingly sudden temperature changes . It suits the oil and coal people to pretend this is all a hoax, or only temporary.. But no, it is not temporary and will not go away, and it’s going to cause mass migration, violence, homelessness, food supply problems and disruptions to life we haven’t yet imagined. We can put up memorials to the. naysayers ( this was all z ‘s fault) but that will do no good. It is the young I worry about. Meanwhile, I am walking everywhere I can. It’s the Epicurean thing to do, despite the vehicle emissions from, yes, fossil fuels.