The Rio Grande and Rain

Off to the Rio Grande on February 2nd. I will be paddling the lower canyons by canoe and I am wildly excited about it. I have a great crew and I just cannot wait to lose myself in the spiritual grandeur of those desert canyons.

With water levels as low as they are in west Texas, we likely will not see many, if any, people on the river, but hopefully we will be paddling not walking the 85-mile route. After an autumn when I was concerned about water levels for paddling in the BWCA, to a winter when I keep looking skyward hoping for snow to keep me xc skiing (rain is predicted today), and now wondering about water levels and whether springs will be flowing along the Rio Grande, precipitation and temperature have been a persistent theme in my thinking and honestly, a worry.

Last year was the warmest year for the USA ever, smashing the 1998 record by a full degree. It did not surprise me. There was a day last March in International Falls where the daily high beat a 100 year record by 17 degrees! Temperature and moisture, of course, are closely related. I have always been a weather geek. When I was a little kid, my sister made me a flannel map of the USA with cut-out fronts and other symbols that I could stick on the map and play weatherman. My undergrad degree is in Geography. Right to this day, Santa is always bringing weather instruments to my daughters. I love observing the weather and studying climate

Unfortunately, when Americans talk about climate change it morphs into some kind of political litmus test. A friend sent me a very polished Powerpoint “proving” that climate change is a bunch of malarky. I responded with, “A very convincing argument, except I have a window.” Last year  in the Twin Cities, arguably, we had more days over 100 degrees than below zero. Tornados ripped through the suburbs…in November! and I pulled a tick off my thigh a couple weeks before Christmas.

It goes well beyond my recreational needs. Even if I was a golfer I would be worried about how fast our climate is changing. From my experience in the arctic, bugs adapt fast to a changing climate, vegetation is a little slower and big mammals go on the endangered list. Look in the mirror. We are big, maybe I am a little too big. Human extinction would not be the end of the world. In fact, the Earth could benefit from a couple billion unpeopled years; it could replenish its depleted petroleum reserves.

On that happy note I need to start menu planning for the Rio Grande!

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