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为何德州在灾难面前如此脆弱

更新时间:2017-9-3 11:12:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Texas Farmer on Harvey, Bad Planning and Runaway Growth
为何德州在灾难面前如此脆弱

We were sitting around a cluttered table in his Bay City, Tex., office over a plate of barbecue, this old Jewish rice farmer and I, and before either of us knew it, we had chewed our way down to the shank of the afternoon talking about Texas, and the Talmud, and the weather.

在德克萨斯州贝城他的办公室里,我们围坐在一个杂乱堆着东西的桌子边,面前是一盘烤肉,这个老年犹太稻农和我一边吃一边聊德克萨斯州、犹太法典和天气,不知不觉到了傍晚。

“I’m sure they told you that if you asked me the time, I’d tell you how to build a watch,” the old man said, chuckling.

“他们肯定告诉过你,如果你问我时间,我会告诉你如何制作手表,”老人笑着说。

Indeed they had. And in those very words. That was, in fact, the very reason I had gone to see him that day in early 2016, as the state’s coastal rice-growing region was still shaking off the aftereffects of a prolonged and vicious drought. Haskell Simon, I had been told, is a man who has, in nine decades in Texas, developed a deep appreciation for the complex interplay between nature and the world we create.

他们确实告诉过我。一字不差。事实上,那正是我2016年初去见他的原因,因为德州沿海稻米种植地区当时仍然没有完全摆脱长期恶性干旱的影响。他们告诉我,哈斯凯尔·西蒙(Haskell Simon)在德克萨斯州生活了90年,对自然和我们所创造的世界之间那种复杂的相互作用拥有深刻的了解。

He did not disappoint me. For hours, he held forth on how the devastating yearslong drought, as bad as it was, had been made all the worse by a perfect storm of bad luck, bad planning and rampant population growth.

他没有让我失望。在几个小时的时间里,他讲述了数年来的严重干旱已经是个灾难,但是糟糕的运气,不周全的规划,猖獗的人口增长,这些因素组合到一起,让情况雪上加霜。

And so, as Hurricane Harvey bore down on southeastern Texas, Haskell Simon was the first person I thought of. It’s not just that I feared for his safety, though I did. It’s that I knew that he could lend me the perspective I needed.

所以,当“哈维”(Harvey)飓风抵达德克萨斯州东南部时,哈斯凯尔·西蒙是我想到的第一个人。这不仅仅是因为我担心他的安全——虽然我也担心——而是我知道他可以给我提供我需要的视角。

And again, he did not disappoint me.

他没有让我失望。

“We’re all right,” he told me. “We dodged a bullet. We’re blessed. ”

“我们没事,”他告诉我。“我们躲了这一劫。运气很好。”

Millions of others, he noted sadly, were not so lucky.

他难过地说,其他数以百万计的人们运气就没有这么好了。

When at last this storm passes, it will have dumped as much as 15 trillion gallons on coastal Texas. To put that into perspective, if all of that water came out of taps and faucets rather than in buckets from the sky, it would be enough to fill the needs of every man, woman and child in this country for 42 days, according to 2010 estimates of Americans’ water use. It’s more than twice the amount of rain that fell during Hurricane Katrina.

到这场风暴最后过去的时候,它在德克萨斯州沿海地区倾泻的雨水将多达15万亿加仑。形象一点讲,如果所有这些水从水龙头而不是从天空中倾倒下来,那么根据2010年美国人的用水量来估计,这些水足够美国所有男人、女人和孩子使用42天。这是卡特里娜飓风的两倍多。

By any kind of reckoning, it is a monstrous storm.

不管根据哪种估计,这都是一场恐怖的暴风雨。

And in the days to come, scientists and pundits will inevitably debate the role that the changing climate played in all of this. They’ll challenge one another over the extent to which the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico — waters that were as high as 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average as the hurricane gained strength — may have supercharged it. They’ll argue about the extent to which the black carbon that the president of Finland warned the president of the United States about just Monday might have warmed the Arctic and whether that was enough to stall the high-level winds that might otherwise have spurred the slow-moving storm along.

在接下来的日子里,科学家和专家们肯定会争论气候变化在所有这些事件中扮演的角色。他们会争论墨西哥湾温暖的海水在多大程度上增加了飓风的威力——飓风肆虐时,那里的水温比平均温度高出7.2华氏度。他们会讨论芬兰总统周一刚跟美国总统提到的黑碳可能在多大程度上导致了北极变暖,以及那是否足以遏制高层风的步伐,而高层风本可以让缓慢移动的风暴加速离开。

Those who resist the idea that a changing climate driven by our consumption played a role in this catastrophe will argue that Texas has always been a land of extremes, a place where crippling droughts often follow close on the heels of killer storms. That is true. Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, is what it is today in large part because earlier savage storms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries leveled the city of Indianola and ravaged Galveston, clearing the way for Houston to become pre-eminent.

那些否认我们的消费行为所导致的气候变化是这场灾难的一个原因的人会说,德克萨斯一直都是一个经常出现极端天气的地方,致命暴风雨过后经常很快出现严重干旱。这是事实。休斯敦现在之所以能成为美国第四大城市,在很大程度上是因为19世纪末、20世纪初的凶猛暴风雨夷平了印第安诺拉,摧毁了加尔维斯顿,为休斯敦的显赫地位扫清了道路。

The cycles of storms and droughts are, as my rice farmer friend will tell you, an inevitable fact of life in Texas. But as he will also tell you — even if you could make the case that climate played no role whatsoever in Hurricane Harvey’s fury or that we weren’t to blame at least in part for the severity of the last drought or the next — those storms and droughts are still more destructive than they ever were before, simply because there is more to destroy.

正如我的稻农朋友会跟你说的,暴雨和干旱的交替出现是在德克萨斯州生活必须面对的现实。但他也会对你说,就算你能证明哈维飓风肆虐跟气候变化毫无干系,或者上一次及下一次干旱的程度完全怪不到我们头上,但这些暴雨和干旱的破坏性依然比之前的都要强,因为可破坏的东西更多了。

He will tell you that in the 16 years since Tropical Storm Allison deluged Houston, that city, which famously balks at any kind of zoning regulation, and the surrounding region, which encompasses all or parts of 15 counties, have undergone a period of explosive growth, from 4.8 million people in 2000 to more than 7 million today. Harris County alone, which includes the city of Houston, has grown to 4.6 million, up from 3.4 million.

他会对你说,在热带风暴阿利森(Allison)淹没休斯敦之后的16年里,这座以抗拒任何分区规划闻名的城市及其周边地区——它包括15个县的全部或部分地区——经历了一个爆炸性发展的时期,从2000年的480万人增长到今天的700多万人。单是休斯敦所在的哈里斯县就从340万人增长到了460万人。

Stand outside Mr. Simon’s Bay City office and you can almost feel it, that wave of development, of strip malls and gated communities, of big-box stores with bigger parking lots, rising up from the outskirts of faraway Austin, ebbing toward Houston and gaining strength as it rolls south toward that very spot.

站在西蒙位于贝城的办公室外,你几乎可以感觉到发展的浪潮,商业街和围起来的社区,以及设有更大停车场的巨大卖场正在远处奥斯汀的郊区耸立起来,往休斯敦方向拓展开来,往南部这个地方则是越来越密集。

That’s millions of people guzzling water when times are dry. Indeed, he’ll explain, it was because of all those new straws stuck into the water that, during the last drought, he and the other rice farmers in this corner of Texas found themselves cut off by upstream demand from their usual source of water on the lower Colorado River, forcing them to let some 40,000 acres lie fallow.

那可是数百万人在干旱期汲取水资源。他会说,实际上,就是因为在上个干旱期,有那么多人需要分享这里的水源,他和德克萨斯这个地区的其他稻农发现,自己的常用水源科罗拉多河下游的水被上游的人截断了,约四万英亩的耕地被迫丢荒。

A century’s worth of unchecked growth, he’ll tell you, has brought prosperity to many. But it also has altered the landscape in ways that have made both the droughts and the floods more destructive and made that prosperity fleeting. Much of the region sits atop the overtaxed Gulf Coast Aquifer, and though efforts have made over the last 40 years to limit withdrawals from it, enough water has been sucked out of it that the ground still subsides in some places, altering runoff patterns and allowing flood waters to gather.

他会跟你说,一个世纪不加控制的发展让很多人发家致富。但那也改变了地貌,导致干旱和洪水的破坏性更强,也让繁荣转瞬即逝。很多地区位于过度开采的墨西哥湾沿岸蓄水层,虽然在过去40年里,人们努力限制用水,但已经有太多水被汲取,有些地方的土地还在下沉,改变了径流走向,导致洪水聚集。

What’s more, those more than 2 million newcomers to the region are living in houses and driving on roads and shopping in stores built atop what once was prairie that could have absorbed at least some of the fury of this flood and the next. What once was land that might have softened the storm’s blow is now, in many cases, collateral damage in what could turn out to be a $40 billion disaster.

更重要的是,这个地区的两百多万新来者所住的房子、开车所走的道路、购物所在的商场都建在从前的草原上,那些草原本可以至少吸收这次和下次洪水的部分威力。从前的那些本可以用于减缓暴风的土地现在大多成了附带伤害——这次灾难造成的损失可能高达400亿美元。

It will take months before the full weight of Hurricane Harvey’s ruinous rampage along the Gulf is realized, and it will be years before a full recovery. And in the space between those two points, my friend would tell you, there might just be a moment to consider how best to rebuild, to pause and rethink how and where we build, to reflect not just on whether we’re altering the weather, but whether there is a way to make ourselves less vulnerable to it. Perhaps we could build differently, or set aside land that would both help recharge the dwindling water supplies in times of drought and slow the floods when they come.

得再过几个月,飓风哈维在墨西哥湾沿岸地区的灾难性肆虐造成的影响才会全部显现,也需要再过几年,当地才能完全恢复过来。而我的朋友会告诉你,在这两个时间点之间的某个时刻,或许该想想如何更好地进行重建,该停下来重新思考在何处以及如何开展建设,该反思我们是否正在改变天气,以及是否有办法让自己不那么容易受天气侵扰。也许我们可以采取不同的建设方式,或者留出一片地方,用于在干旱时帮助补充日益减少的供水,在发洪水时帮助减缓洪水行进的速度。

My friend has more than a few ideas on how that might be done. He can, and will, tell you in minute detail how to build a watch. What he cannot do is tell you how much time you have before the next storm hits, or how to use it.

关于那些可以怎么做,我的朋友有很多点子。他可以,也乐于巨细无遗地告诉你如何制造手表。但他无法告诉你在下一次风暴来袭之前你有多少时间,或者如何利用这些时间。

That is up to you.

这取决于你。

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