The following is a recent dispatch from the Climate Reality Tour, a movement-building cycling tour from the coalfields of West Virginia to the UN Climate Talks in Cancún.
11/24/2010 - Popocatéptl and Iztaccíhuatl. We never knew how much we could learn about climate change from a pair of words that after many, many attempts we still can’t say 3 times fast. But these twin volcanic peaks speak straightforward volumes.
Everyone we ask recounts that these mighty mountains whose glaciers provide the water to the capital and various surrounding states, were once a like white knights of moisture, fighting off drought and thirst between the rainy seasons. The immaculate summits dominate more than the landscape, occupying central space in the cultural sphere as well. Today the volcanoes are still breathtaking, though the glaciers are all but gone. And if you live here, you can’t help but notice. It’s not lost on anyone, and perhaps that’s explains the unanimity of support for our mission since we arrived here. In we visited one of the volcanically filtered pools that bubble up from underneath Popocatéptl and run downhill to feed the valley with fresh water for irrigation and drinking. A taco vendor there recounted how when she was a little girl the water that now rose just enough above my ankles to require some extra pants rolling, once flowed up to her neck in the same riverbed. Incredible. In addition to seeing its source in the skyline, the water runs underfoot and in municipal canals that look like gutters, right there in the open. And it’s the most delicious drinking water you’ve EVER had. It’s got a hint of anise! Forget that adage about not drinking the water in Mexico. If you get to drink from Popocatéptl, do it! With water and its source so visible and central in the landscape and life of the surrounding populations, folks know something’s up when the glaciers melt away in only 15 years. That’s when NAFTA was enacted. Only partially a coincidence…
Now folks are worrying how to deal with increasing scarcity due to global warming. Coping seems the only plan anyone has – coping with even less than these humble folks have already. While we in the U.S. and global north still deny our fault and our debt. Infuriating.Even if many of those we spoke with don’t necessarily understand the issue as human-made global warming as such (though many did), Popo and Izta make it simple. They tell pretty much all that most any of us need is to know about global warming: it’s happening, and folks are going to starve and die of thirst if we don’t reverse it.