“So the world will be a degree or two warmer, who cares? I like the summer warm.”
The fight against climate change has stalled. Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House. Reagan tore them down. Nixon created the EPA. Now the head of the EPA is a coal lobbyist. Oil companies fund politicians and propaganda machines, and the opinion I opened with is not an uncommon one.
Relatively recently, activists have changed terms from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change.” Because the issue isn’t a couple degrees of warming or even the glaciers melting, the issue is about that warming’s far reaching effects on the system that is the Earth. Scientists warn us about more turbulent storms, ocean acidification, less productive agriculture, and as “The Tamarisk Hunter” is written about, larger droughts.
“The Tamarisk Hunter” is a short story by Paolo Bacigalupi, published in the collection “I’m With The Bears: Short Stories From a Damaged Planet.” From the introduction of the book, a sentiment that resonated with me: “The scientists have done their job … Now it’s time for the rest of us–for the economists, the psychologists, the theologians. And the artists, whose role is to help us understand what things feel like.”
Part of what makes “The Tamarisk Hunter” a great story is the feeling that this really could happen. In the story, the US is in a postapocalyptic state, with the seemingly sovereign California controlling all of the water of the Colorado river. Our main character Lolo works uprooting tamarisk, a water hungry plant, which California has put a water bounty on. In the present day, there are already water issues with the Colorado river. It used to flow all the way to Mexico, but now it is diverted to California agriculture and is stored behind a dam.
The events of the story show us a possible future we need to work to avoid. Droughts and water shortages will be created and worsened by climate change. And people who are paying attention know that. That’s why George Bush’s family bought 300,000 acres on the world’s largest aquifer. It’s an investment.