Monday, July 14, 2008

Only Once

People have almost forgotten that it used to snow in the South. When I was a kid growing up in the Atlanta area, it was not unusual to see two or three solid snowfalls every winter. Really good ones. I went through two sleds between the ages of seven and twelve. I wore them out. I vividly recall hitting a granite wall with one in the fifth grade and snapping the steel frame. Those were the days.

Now it almost never snows in Atlanta. When it does, it's a big item on the national news.
"It Fucking Snowed in Atlanta!" As if this was something that's not supposed to happen.

These days I live just outside Charlotte North Carolina. It also used to snow a lot here. Not anymore. This past year, my family and I saw snow only once, and that was on a November camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were sitting at 5,300 feet above sea level when a snowstorm passed over the high peaks. It was fun. It was also the single time I saw frozen precipitation at all in 2007. That was it.

My son, Andy, on November 11, 2007. Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is yet another reason I've been so busy over the past few years visiting wild places. Between industrial-driven climate change, and urban sprawl, and habitat destruction, and the rising acidity of oceans and lakes, I want to see all of this stuff before it's dead and gone. As Richard Leakey (and others) have warned, we're witnessing the greatest extinction of life on this planet in many tens of millions of years. The sad thing is that this one was not brought on by a natural disaster. This one was calculated.

We were warned.

We had choices.

We took the worst possible route.

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