This year, the proximity of St. George’s Day (Tuesday) with Monday’s Earth Day is most apt. Within the past few weeks, Catalonia, whose patron saint is Sant Jordi, has had to deal firsthand with the effects of our warming globe.

          Throughout Barcelona and the rest of the autonomous community of Catalonia (where many want full independence), the streets were packed with tables full of books, a celebration of the written word that other countries would do well to emulate.

          This Sant Jordi tradition is accompanied with the sale of red roses. St. George slew the dragon to rescue his lady love. From the dragon’s blood sprang red roses.

          Catalonian lovers were expected to purchase about seven million roses. But, according to Catalan News, the roses this year were “mostly imported from Colombia and Ecuador. Catalonia’s only rose grower expects to sell 50,000 roses, 15% less than last year. High winter temperatures have cut and shrunk produce.”

          Climate change has also affected another significant Catalonia crop – wine grapes, where a fourth year of extreme drought has taken a toll on the region’s vineyards. Conditions are so dire that officials are considering using non-local grapes in the production of its sparkling wine – Cava.

          At the other end of the Mediterranean, Greek Reporter noted concern among olive producers, with reduced harvests affecting quantity and quality and those conditions producing higher prices for consumers.

          Grower Marianna Devetzoglou said, “we’re seeing that the seasons are off tune; we don’t have real winters. The olive tree is a resilient tree, but it does need time to adapt, and we should help with regenerative practices and some irrigation if possible.”

          Back in Barcelona with Catalan News, “The government has announced it will set a cap on water consumption per visitor at tourist accommodation, at an equivalent level to the consumption of residents living in Catalonia.” 

          How such levels will be monitored and enforced must involve some arcane instrumentation, but another drought measure could prove downright confrontational. “(P)rivate and public swimming poolscan be refilled if they are designated climate shelters open to all.”

          I have no doubt the rich folks of Catalonia will be as resourceful as their ilk elsewhere in keeping the ragamuffins at bay, but, that does not minimize the global warming changes descending upon the lives of Catalonians.

          They are not the only ones. Rebecca Hersher at National Public Radio reported last week, “Major cities across China are sinking, putting a substantial portion of the country’s rapidly urbanizing population in harm’s way in the coming decades, according to a sweeping new analysis by Chinese scientists.”

          The analysis estimates, “that about a quarter of China’s coastal land will be below sea level in the next hundred years,” but, Hersher continued, “That means tens of millions of people are already at risk, and that could grow to hundreds of millions if China’s cities continue to both grow in population and subside at their current rate, and seas continue to rise. Oceans are rising steadily due to greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, gas and coal.”

            Some of you might assess the troubles of the Mediterranean or China pick up the chorus of the lost-way-too-soon Steve Goodman: “And it ain’t too hard it to get along with somebody else’s troubles,/They don’t make you lose any sleep at night./As long as fate is out there burstin’ somebody else’s bubbles/Everything is gonna be alright./And everything is gonna alright.”

            But, everything is connected. In my early newspaper days, we referred to emphasizing distant problems over covering local iniquities as “Afghanistanning.” The past 45 years have shown us that Afghanistan can affect us, too.

            Global warming is not localized to areas feeling its first impact. A recent dust-up over the quality of the waste water Lawton is discharging into the East Cache Creek watershed seems tied directly to Southwest Oklahoma’s warmer than (the old) normal winter.

            Kaylee Olivas of KFOR and Mike W. Wray of Southwest Ledger dove deep into the water controversy, interviewing Lawton City Manager John Ratliff and local activists, some of whose water testing research showed astronomical levels of E. Coli bacteria in East Cache, downstream from its confluence with Nine Mile Creek, which receives the Lawton waste treatment effluent.

            Behind the acrimony and accusations, both reports noted (per Olivas) that “under current state regulations, the City of Lawton is not required to test its waters for E. Coli from October through May.” 

            Ray’s account added the explanation from Lawton Communications Director Caitlin Gatlin, that this testing is not required, “because the bacteria does not thrive during the winter/cooler months.”

            With winter months turning warming, state regulations should be adjusted accordingly to address the suppression of the bacteria.

            The world is warming. Climate change deniers often use their deliberate ignorance as an excuse to argue over its (very real, human generated) cause in lieu of taking any action to mitigate the results. Along with the vigilance required to monitor the situation, fast and fancy footwork is needed worldwide if governments are to protect their constituents as their circumstances change.

            (The Department of Oklahoma Environmental Quality recently cited Lawton for discharging partially treated sewage into the watershed. City officials cite an equipment failure as the culprit.)

            (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Warm greetings from Earth Day

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