Happy 2022 to our fellow space travelers

In the past three years, maybe four, I haven’t burned a tank of snowthrower gas. One of those years I never even took the thing out.

“You should feel lucky then, haha,” my nephew wrote in a chat.

Nope. He is young enough to think clearing snow is a chore. I used to love clearing our driveway late at night, just me and the machine’s headlight and a stream of snow.

Weather forecasts offer no encouragement that I will get to use the machine this year. Television prognosticators delight in saying it will be a nice day; allow me to suggest there is nothing nice about a string of 60-degree (or warmer) days in mid-January.

A story on “60 Minutes” this week reported the wine-growing climate that has made the flavor of wine from southern France world-famous now has English winemakers salivating over wine wealth nearly within their grasp.

Meanwhile, a credit card company commercial exhorts its customers to “Plant a tree with every purchase.”

“One card, zero carbon footprint,” the ad proclaims, ignoring the environmental cost of, for instance, the computers that calculate the profits from each transaction.

Over the few centuries, hundreds of miles of canals have been built to redirect water to southern and central California’s agriculture centers from as far away as the state’s northern snowfields and the Colorado River – places where water once ran wild and full of winter precipitation. The redirected water made growing edible crops a profitable enterprise.

But over those same years, the climate has changed and snowmelt has virtually ceased to exist. Scientists are beginning to refer to a more than 20-year drought as “aridification” – long-term drying of climate and land. Increasingly efficient pumps have sucked so much water from below ground that the earth’s surface has sunk, causing canals to sink and break and manmade waterways to cease transporting the precious liquid.

The farm owners who built their mansions with the seemingly endless supply of redirected water are calling on the laborers who ply the fields to spend more of their toil and taxes to rebuild those water transportation systems. With the loss of water from above and below ground, questions remain about where they will obtain new water.

We have become used to a way of life increasingly under threat as growing seasons move north and migratory birds delay their travels to wait for winter that does not come.

The future is not exactly bleak, but the start of a new year seems an excellent time to consider how we are, or should be, educating our young about the source of their food, air and water, and how they will be asked to protect it and, in many cases, restore it. Planting trees is a wonderful idea, but those shoots will be many years growing to match the abilities of those we have cut down to make room for our roads and houses.

Our kids and grandkids must get into the outdoors if they are to value the source of their air, water and food. We must make “nature” more recognizable to all ages. Already, too many of our kids think their source of life comes from the supermarket.

Thousands of acres of state forests are of little import when they are separated from too much of our population, most of which lives in urban population centers, by miles and hours of pavement and No Trespassing signs. It is difficult to instill a sense of responsibility in, or present a tax bill to, those who have never experienced, other than as a commercial commodity, what they are being asked to protect.

“Happy 2022” – the beginning of new relationships between us, our planet and the myriad creatures who ride this rock with us.

Welcome aboard another tour at The Edge of the Wood. Please take a minute to comment and share the conversation. I’ll appreciate the help spreading the word.

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