Year 4, Month 12, Day 13: Run To The Rock For Rescue, There Will Be No Rock

The New York Daily News, on the future of our various forms of sublimated combat:

Hockey fans frustrated with the Rangers, Islanders or Devils might find solace in this vision: their players just disappearing, swallowed by ice rinks turned to pools of water.

As Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler used to ask on “Saturday Night Live,” “Really?”

The prospect is broached by a group making a rare foray into public policy: the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Football League and U.S. Olympic Committee.

On the same day Senate Democrats executed the so-called “nuclear option,” the sports folks were meeting under the Capitol with a House-Senate task force on climate change.

The talk was not of the usual business of preserving antitrust exemptions or fending off calls for better drug testing or safer play.

It was the impact of climate change, which they all concede, on the future of their sports.

Without casting their lot with many specific Obams administration policies, the traditionally cautious and risk-averse assemblage conceded the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

“These are great American businesses, great American cultural institutions and there being here means a great deal,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a sharp former federal prosecutor and son of a career diplomat who’s made 51 Senate floor speeches on climate change.

He rightly rails against climate-change deniers and “phony-baloney organizations designed to look and sound like they’re real,” as well as scientists on corporate payrolls “whom polluters can trot out when they need them.”

What was fascinating is that he was not surrounded by tree-hugging true believers, but top officials from sports leagues mindful of the diverse politics of their fans, and not big on wading into contentious areas.

I don’t care about any sports other than Quidditch and 43-man Squamish, but this was just too tempting to ignore. December 1:

Even leaving aside the questions of carbon footprint, fossil-fuel consumption, and the like, the long-term viability of American professional sports is closely tied to our national handling of climate change. Why? Put simply, our national pastimes are a function of our prosperity; the resources of cash, infrastructure and time not earmarked for our immediate survival needs. When long-term sustained drought cripples corn and wheat production, food prices will climb; when extreme storms devastate coastal regions, athletic stadiums will find more immediate utility as emergency housing for thousands of suddenly homeless families.

And, of course, when the continuity of our lives is increasingly disrupted by the countless small impacts of a transforming climate, we’re going to have less time and energy for all the things we’ve taken for granted that make our lives rich and enjoyable.

Climate change’s implications will be felt everywhere in our cultural life from baseball to ballet.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 5, Day 10: You Need A Hug

The Berkshire Eagle assesses climatic impact on the economy of Western Massachusetts:

By the end of the century, the Berkshire County economy — much like the global economy — may be forever altered by the effects of climate change. Some local economic changes have already begun in response to impacts expected from climate change in the coming decades.

Land-use planners and policy specialists in the insurance industry are preparing for changes likely to be brought on by warmer temperatures and more severe weather events. Local farmers and business owners are already looking to their future, many doubtful about the climate change concept, but still determined to build revenue streams that will withstand climate changes or compensate for weather-generated losses.

In one example of a specific local economic effect likely to result from climate change, Cameron Wake, associate professor with the Institute of Earth, Oceans and Space at the University of New Hampshire and a lead author of the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, had a dire assessment of the local ski industry: “By the end of the century, the only ski areas that remain viable [in the Northeast] will be in the western mountains of Maine.”

It’s one of my favorite parts of the world. April 27:

The Berkshires aren’t alone in experiencing the accelerating impact of climate change, a real-world crisis that even the most vehement denialists cannot ignore much longer. Between dwindling snowpacks, multi-year droughts, unseasonal monsoons, and the arrival of invasive insect pests, this planetary phenomenon manifests itself at local and regional levels in ways that will bring significant economic, social and environmental effects. There may be temporary benefits for a few species here and there, a few communities poised to take advantage of short-term circumstances — but the future offered by our radically transforming climate is almost entirely bleak.

Are there positive aspects to this slo-mo disaster? Only that we humans may, at long last, fully grasp that our individual and collective behaviors have effects far distant in space and time. The lives of our descendants hinge on our recognition that the greenhouse effect renders political and cultural distinctions utterly and finally irrelevant.

Warren Senders