In Praise of Bad Weather
There is joy in the air. That joy is misplaced.
For that joy might kill us.
I set down these words on the 9th of March in Manhattan. Historically, the average temperature on this day of the year is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the weather forecast for today, March 9, 2021, is correct -- and at this writing, it looks like it will be -- the temperature will hit 61 degrees F.
"Today is going to be a beautiful day," the radio said this morning.
Everyone is happy. People are making plans to eat outside, go running, walking, whatever. Everyone in New York who can break away from work or other obligations is determined to enjoy today's "good weather."
I feel it, too. I have a meeting after I finish writing this. The sun will feel sweet on my face. More people will be smiling; even if I have to surmise that from the twinkle in their eyes above a mask, their pleasure in this good weather will be infectious.
We have got to stop thinking about warm, sunny, hotter-than-usual weather as positive. Weather isn't climate. But hotter-than-usual weather multiplied out, repeated as it has been for years, reflects the existential threat of climate change. Hotter-than-usual weather repeated over time is killing coral and plants, extinguishing animal species. It will ultimately kill us, and if not us, our children, and if not them, our grandchildren. I have not yet met my grandchild, but I don't want my grandchild, or yours, to die before he or she has his or her own grandchildren.
We've been greeting "beautiful days," i.e., hotter-than-usual days, by putting on tank tops, grabbing picnic baskets and heading to the park. This is understandable. This is insane.
Celebrating a hotter-than-usual day makes as much sense as a Frenchman jumping for joy at the sight of invading German troops. Sparkling blue, cloudless skies are harbingers of doom. The soft scent of your own sweat under a gentle sun in midwinter is a death sentence handed down by a judge whose rulings cannot be appealed. When you hear that it's going to be 61 degrees in Manhattan in March, you should be scared to death.
There are, if you pay attention, signs that everything is wrong. Trees whose first buds appeared in late April now pop out in February, fresh leaves frozen off as the weather turns cold again, though not as cold nor for as long as it should. Asthmatics, those human canaries, suffer from "spring" allergies all "winter" long. There are so few birds.