New normals

Dear President Trump,

The Olympic Mountains looked stunning today. They’re covered with snow and there was both thick fog skirting their bases and low cloud cover hovering along their tops. Late in the afternoon when the sun was in the West it was illuminating the mountains and they shone like a ribbon between the gray bands. The sunset was especially dramatic because the spaces between the mountains (still hemmed in by low cloud cover) were filled with a zillion shades of pink, the barest blush all the way on through to deep, deep coral. If I liked you and if I thought you would appreciate it, I would wish you’d been able to see it.

You know by now that there doesn’t need to be an occasion or anything really momentous for me to want to tell you about some lovely nature thing, but there actually is something of an occasion this time. Today we finally had a day without non-stop pelting rain after getting around 6” of rain over 48 hours starting Thursday at noon. It absolutely dumped here. We were headed for our 4th driest year on record until Thursday, but that’s not the case now since we made up for it in spades. At least one huge tree fell over onto Eastbound I-90, stopping all lanes of traffic for quite a long time, and there was flooding up and down the Puget Sound region. This storm wasn’t like a hurricane hitting Houston or New Orleans, but for us it was an epic amount of rain. Really, it was a weird amount of rain all at once. Our old normal was off and on, mostly on, rain showers from October/November through the end of May/June that will soak a person and a dog after 15 or 20 minutes, but this new normal rain-dump-deal leaves a person and/or a dog sopping wet in under 2 minutes.

The other noteworthy thing with all this rain is that the reservoir across the street looks appreciably fuller than it did on Wednesday. Because I’ve not done any basic math for you lately, I went ahead and figured out the approximate number of gallons of water that fell on the reservoir during the 48-hour rain extravaganza and it was 1,306,800. Here’s how it goes: 1) 7.5 gallons in a cubic foot divided by 2 is 3.75 gallons to get to half a cubic foot with 6” of rain; 2) 43,560 square feet per acre multiplied by 8 acres of reservoir is 348,480 square feet, and 3) multiply this by 3.75 to get over a million gallons of water falling in two days over one tiny portion of the city.

I think I’ve resorted to doing math to put something of a buffer between myself and the scary fact that this sort of rainfall really does appear to be our new normal ushered in by climate change. Other parts of the country and of the world have been dealing with scary new normals for quite some time and what we are dealing with in the Pacific Northwest is still comparatively tame. However, if even our mild maritime weather is changing to something more intense and harsh, it doesn’t bode well for our ecosystem or for the parts of the country that are affected by our weather patterns.

I know Barron is supposed to be off limits, but have you sat down and had a heart-to-heart with him about the future? Do you know if he thinks he might want to have kids of his own some day? What about Ivanka’s kids? At 8, Arabella is probably cognizant enough to know that global warming is a threat, but Joseph and Theodore are likely still blissfully unaware. I wonder how they’re going to feel about Grandpa when they eventually learn that you pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord and helped topple that fragile house of cards world leaders thought they were building in good faith. Maybe if you keep them in ponies and flashy electronics they won’t get too, too mad – until they do, and then you better look out because I think they will be absolutely disgusted with you.

May we be safe as we adapt to the new normals.
May we be willing to really consider our children’s futures.
May we restore our planet’s health before it’s too late.
May we make peace with sustainable ways of being.

Tracy Simpson

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