Texas Flood

First of all, it’s still raining and it looks to be getting worse soon.

The New York Times had an article recently about Ron Paul remarked on the strange confluence of far left and far right opinion. This has coastal folks baffled. It makes perfect sense in the south, though. People who dismiss “flyover country” and come up with stupid theories about what makes rural people tick drive me mad. They should drop their theories and try to get acquainted with the average Kinky Freidman or Ron Paul voter.

I’m on an interesting Texas-based mailing list. I won’t identify the list; I’m not sure whether that would be a violation of trust, but I will say that it’s interesting how kind and decent their hearts are and how confused their information is. There’s some interesting dancing around religion on the list; people are going out of their way not to offend each other and I will stand by that. (While I won’t point you to them I have pointed them to here.) This mutual respect is wonderful and remarkable.

The list pretty much begins with a substantive agreement that Something Is Wrong and We Must Do Something About It. While there are substantial and impressive competencies represented I have to say that broad education and scientific insight is distressingly weak. It’s hard to imagine how this genuinely decent and courageous demographic can actually work together without making big mistakes.

There is blame aplenty on both sides for the nearly complete failure of the reds and the blues to communicate. I wish the courage and decency of this group could be combined with coastal sophistication. (Instead we have a government that combines coastal cynicism with heartland confusion. Great. Democracy at work.) Anyway I’ll try to bring a little blue perspective to the list without being overbearing. It’s hard to bite my tongue as much as I ought to.

So back to the point. Those on the list who are willing to treat climate science as authoritative seemed basically relieved when I told them that nothing uphill from San Antonio would be below the sea, ever. This strikes me as very strange; all the coastal counties, along with the enormous petrochemical infrastructure perched upon them, are at risk. The Katrina migration has affected everyone; refugees are scatterred hither and yon through Texas, and yet there is little concern what effect hundreds of times that amount of migration and homelessness might have on our beautiful hill country.

Meanwhile, August approaches. The high pressure cell that is supposed to be established over Texas by mid-June is nowhere to be seen. Rather, there’s a persistent low. Rain occurs daily, downpours most days, and huge localized flood events pop up here and there in the hills. The normal high for the time of year is 97 F (36 C). Yesterday we barely hit 80 (27 C). An actual tropical depression approaches and we (and especially neighbors to our south around San Antonio and points south and east of there) may be in for some real trouble.

Statistically, one weird summer can’t be called climate change, but the headscratching seen around here is very similar to what you saw in the shirtsleeve-weather Christmases in Chicago that have been popping up lately (including last year’s one). Some people are sticking to their “climate change is natural” guns, but nobody except the statisticians suspects for a minute that what we are seeing is a part of normalcy.

I see the statisticians’ point but there’s a point they are missing. I don’t think you can treat the various northern hemisphere anomalies happening this summer as independent events. I go along with the folk wisdom on this one. I don’t suspect for a minute that nothing unusual is happening.

Update: The tropical depression fizzled. We are still fine.

Update: Hank Roberts points to a site with an alarming estimate of global flooding trends.