Day 30, Post 28: I'm once again adding some new people to these Southern Tier posts. If you are reading this for the first time, please know this is one in a series of an ongoing posts about a cycling tour I am taking from San Diego to St Augustine, FL along the famed "Southern Tier" cycling route made popular by the Adventure Cycling Association. If you are you getting this message for the first time, please know you can always write me back and I'll happily take you off the email list if you don't want to receive these updates. You won't hurt my feelings, I promise! And, conversely if there are others you think might enjoy receiving these, please send me their email address and I will add them if they aren't already on the list.
I noticed an article today from the Guardian that was pretty sobering. Some of it went like this: "Arctic warmth set to continue. The unprecedented heat that the Arctic experienced in 2016 is expected to continue this year as the world heads into “truly uncharted territory,” the World Meteorological Organization warned this week". It went on : "This past year’s warming was aided in part by the natural climate cycle known as El Niño. While El Niño is now waning, 2017 still looks like it will continue along a trajectory of shrinking sea ice and rising sea levels, due to the greenhouse gases driving climate change".
I've been wondering what will happen to the amazing countryside I've been biking through (in March the temperature gets into the 80's). So I did a little research. I found a study published in 2016 by the mildly evocatively named Risky Business, a venture led by, among others, former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg and former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson. The study itself — "Come Heat or High Water: Climate Risk in the Southeast U.S. and Texas" — operates within the bounds of accepted scientific consensus. The authors assume that climatology is an accurate science and don't question the reality of climate change. Instead, the economic and direct risks of things continuing just as they are is reviewed. For Texas, the news is grim: "While climate change likely will increase both summer and winter average temperatures, the impact in Texas will be most evident in the number of days of extreme heat each year. During the past 30 years, the typical Texan has experienced an average of 43 days per year of temperatures above 95°F. But by mid-century, that number is likely to reach up to 80 such days, and to reach up to 106 days per year by 2040-2059 — more extreme heat than any state besides Arizona experiences today."
This suggests to me that if you want to visit the Texan southwest, do it reasonably soon - because in a few decades it will be too dangerously hot for months at a time. I thought this same thing last summer as I biked through southern Utah and my bike computer registered 117 degrees. It's only a matter of decades before large portions of the American southwest will be a public health hazard to visit at certain times.
I'm staying in a KOA tonight in Bastrop, TX, about 30 miles SE of Austin. The owners spontaneously gave me a special rate on a cute cabin because I am biking the Southern Tier. I was delighted, of course. My biking day was short because as I was packing up this morning I snapped a stay on my back panniers. (I slept very well at Diamond Jack's by the way - all my bunk mates were very courteous). When the pannier failed, I headed over to the Austin REI and replaced yet another pair. It was an expensive fix, and took a few extra hours of my time, but rain was forecast and I wanted functionally waterproof panniers... besides, I wasn't going to get another chance to fix that problem until New Orleans. So now, both my front and back panniers are shiny new. That won't last long, of course. I already scuffed up the front pair on a barbed wire fence. Well, what the hell....
Check out my road cycling activity on Garmin Connect.
Pic 1, This banner was on a Baptist church in Austin.
Pic 2, interior of Vic's BBQ. Amazing food, the real deal!
Pic 3, Landscape shot east of Austin looking east. Austin seems like the divide between the west and the east. It's flat and humid on the east side, hilly and dry on the west.
Pic 4, Texas roadside in bloom.
More to come,