The water keeps coming. Who knows what exactly is to blame for what? It wasn’t the sea rising that submerged the freight tracks in the low ground by Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, sending four or five feet of murky water through a train tunnel. It was just a water main breaking in the middle of another torrential downpour. “It was not clear whether Monday morning’s heavy rains contributed to the water main break,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
It was not clear: the slogan, day to day, of the breakdown of the climate. Maybe the warming planet made the heavy rains make the water main collapse; maybe this time the city was just crumbling on its own. The news just has to cover the events as they happen, as best it can. Mark the unknown parts unknown, and move on. In the follow-up story on the water-main repairs, it remained officially “not clear.”
In the aerial picture of the plume of new dirty water in the Harbor, the regular old water was up to the top of the brick-paved steps below the little Harborplace amphitheater, which was not a place the water used to be. A little while back, somebody tweeted a picture or video of people wading on those steps, with a comment about how they couldn’t be from Baltimore, because they’d gone in the water, which was true, but when Harborplace opened, when I was nine years old, there wasn’t any water up there regardless. Boundaries keep changing.
Meanwhile, yesterday, down in the D.C. Metro, someone shot video of a train leaving a station, underground, going straight through a waterfall—a whole column of water, pouring through the ceiling. The unraveling is all just an accumulation of probabilities, or improbabilities that stop being so improbable. Right before the Fourth of July, I drove from Chicago to Denver with the dashboard thermometer going up to 100 and beyond. Around Fort Collins, we got caught in the heaviest hailstorm of my life. Of my life so far, anyway.