Monday, November 26, 2007

And then? A writer dares to ask the question

Tom Engelhardt, creator of the TomDispatch website and fellow at The Nation Institute, wrote a moving essay that questions why major American media have been so obviously avoiding the question of What if Atlanta - a city of 4.5 million - actually runs out of water?

I'm not simply being apocalyptic here. I'm just asking. It's not even that I expect answers. I'd just like to see a crew of folks with the necessary skills explore the "and then" question for the rest of us. Try to connect a few dots, or tell us if they don't connect, or just explain where the dots really are.
Of course, I've been asking this question all along in Climate Frog. I just don't qualify as "major media," or even - at this point - "minor media." I'm a guy looking at the reality and wondering when - like the frog - we're going to cop to what's going on and start making some contingency plans. For Atlanta, it's late in the game. The plans should have been made long ago. Engelhardt is not judgmental in his essay; he's looking at the big picture, where many regions are facing the "what then" question and many millions of people stand to be affected to a life-or-death degree.
I know answers to the "and then" question are not easy or necessarily simple. But if drought -- or call it "desertification" -- becomes more widespread, more common in heavily populated parts of the globe already bursting at the seams (and with more people arriving daily), if whole regions no longer have the necessary water, how many trails of tears, how many of those mass migrations or civilizational collapses are possible? How much burning and suffering and misery are we likely to experience? And what then?

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