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PROBABILITY
July 26, 2011
 
How gracious the rain that finally came yesterday afternoon -- it began quietly and fell softly for several hours. This morning our relief is still palpable.

Out in the garden, the plants stretch luxuriously, reaching a little further down into the newly moist soil with their toes. Earthworms emerge from their parched torpor and move again upon their microscopic food, and the cats have resumed their patrol of the perimeter.

I myself feel a quickening. New York was as fast-paced as ever in the terrible heat, but the effort required to keep it so was huge, and we were so desperate for air that there was no energy left over for anything besides walking and breathing. Even the sauna of the subway platforms felt cool in comparison with the street outside. People took pictures of eggs frying on the hoods of cars.

Now, there is flirtation and laughter on the sidewalks again -- lovers can hold hands without sticking to each other. Tourists are remembering why it was that they wanted to come here. The idea of an outdoor poetry reading again feels like something other than an act of aggression. Things are looking up.

Enjoy the cooler weather while you have it -- it'll be hot again by week's end. As wrapped as we are in the protective cloak of our technology, we remain vulnerable to nature's superior power. The most we can accomplish, apparently, is to mess it up: extremes of weather are here to stay, I have read -- colder winters, hotter summers, fiercer storms, all the result of too many people, too many cattle, too much fossil fuel combustion. We wasted too much time in politically-driven argument about the cause of global warming to do anything to prevent it when we might have had the chance -- if there ever really was such a time -- and now it is upon us. Climate change cannot now be staved off, or even materially reduced in scope. The only decisions left to us now are about how we will live within the strictures it imposes.

Life on earth is changing. Throughout the world, human migration will be ever more obviously about food and water. The war between extravagance and subsistence will also become more obvious as the war it is, and will draw into itself people who heretofore have had the luxury of considering themselves uninvolved in it. In the United States, the paradigm of American rugged individualism so admired in a land seemingly without limits will give way to another paradigm as the definition of a citizen's rights and duties changes -- it will no longer be possible to imagine that each of us pursuing our own interests will magically vector into the good of the whole, without much in the way of governance. This transition will not occur without a struggle, as the human fondness for wishful thinking does what it always does: convinces many that what would be in their own short-term interest if it were true must therefore be true.

Probably two people can live in a house big enough for eight and it'll be okay. Probably the grid will hold, even if we add a couple of million households every year. Probably an instant-on television in every room is okay. Probably people who have never seen water run from a faucet won't mind staying that way so I can have my own swimming pool; they'll never know the difference anyway. It's probably okay to drive your enormous car by yourself instead of sharing a ride or taking a bus -- it's so much more convenient, and the bus is such a pain.

Such a pain.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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