Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rivers Running in My Bike Lane


Salt River, Verde River, Colorado (via the SRP/CAP interconnect) water, diverted, pumped, carried, siphoned and directed to this spot, now running in the street down the drain, and then to where? Not sure.

Sure that it's a sign, a symbol, a warning of waste in the desert, of wanton disregard of the environment, the future, the anti-frugal usage of a scarce resource in high demand. You can see that here, and I cannot argue.

I also see more, today, history, and tomorrows.

Today: what we can do, what we might do, hydropower and solar power too that runs my lights and cools my house and runs my Internet. I think about water chemistry, the salt of the river, the carbonate-silicate cycle, CO2 and C4 photosynthesis happening in a blade of Bermuda grass watered by the freight of three distant rivers inside a major city. My bicycle has fenders. I dive it into the running water which it slices through and sends sheets sideways. It's cooler when I enter the rivers' running.

History, recent and distant: the politics and dollars behind this flow within my lifetime. The pioneers who scratched out the farms that became these neighborhood in my great grandparents' lifetime. They followed the same canal routes as the Hohokam a thousand years before because the ancient ones knew where the water flowed, how it wanted to go, and what would grow best here.

Tomorrows: will the water hold? Will my children have this hydropower, too, will the rivers still run in the bike lanes here for them? I'm reading Five Billion Years of Solitude currently, which says it's about SETI but it seems like it's about more, about us in the cosmos, where we are, how we got here, understanding those being key to understanding exoplanets and space telescopes, and filling in the Drake equation with something different from SWAGs expressed in powers of ten. Canals on Mars.

We'll look in the direction of those distant rocky spheres in the habitable zones of their suns (noise-like delta-vs) and ask questions I'm asking about the rivers running in my bike lane in the light of my own star blazing my route: where's the water, what's going on with the CO2, how much oxygen was, is, and will be there, what will grow, what will live, what will thrive, and what will die, under those conditions?

I'm riding along looking up, down, out, back, and forward. My childrens' names whisper through my thoughts, along with possible lives on possible distant worlds. Drawings on rocks by Hohokam. Sun-powered wind farms running my Internet. 

I draw in a deep breath. The rivers running in my bike lane smell like forever.

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