Is it just me, or does anyone else get annoyed when, on a day like today (Monday, April 16), when the high temperature in my town is supposed to top out at about 25 degrees above normal, everyone seems so happy about it? I feel like screaming, “It’s climate change, everybody, run for the Arctic, or least to San Francisco!” (I do hear, though, that housing is much cheaper in the Arctic.)
You can’t get away from the constant cheerfulness about a summer-like day in early spring. It’s certainly on the radio. At around 11 a.m., I tuned in to WCBS 880 (in New York City) to hear the national news — always sure to put a smile on my face — and was just a minute early, so I couldn’t help but hear the local anchorperson say in her relentlessly chirpy voice, “Break out the shorts and t-shirts! It could hit 90 degrees today.” She sounded so happy about it.
Listen, you don’t have to sound depressed — although I’d much prefer that — but do you have to talk about these bizarrely hot days as if you were announcing peace in the Middle East?
A little later, listening to the news in my car, hoping to be entertained by the stories about our secret service guys cavorting with prostitutes, I hear the anchorwoman say, “Our Marla Diamond drew the long straw today. So she’s out talking to people about how they’re taking advantage of the weather.”
And there’s Marla, with a young actor who’s hanging out at a park on the Hudson River. “You’re shoeless, you’re shirtless!” she says, and he replies, “Yeah, and it’s a pleasure, because, you know, it wasn’t that long ago we couldn’t do this.”
That’s right, I feel like screaming at my car radio, I know you mean a few days ago, but I’m thinking 30 years ago, when it was always a little chilly in mid-April, and that was normal, but you’re probably 25 years old, so you don’t even know normal, and you’re probably so busy texting and sexting that you haven’t even noticed that we’re heading toward climatic oblivion.
I was on my way to join a friend for lunch. We met outside the restaurant, and as we walked toward the door, he said something about it being pretty hot, and I launched into a rant. “Yeah,” I said, “and that’s bad enough. But everyone is constantly saying how beautiful it is, and I can’t stand it. ‘Sure,’ I feel like yelling, ‘this is just great. The world is ending, but let’s all enjoy this beautiful day.’”
He gave me a look which said, All I wanted to do was have lunch; so I stopped.
We went into the restaurant and sat down, and the waitress came over and said, “It’s really beautiful out there, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it sure is!” I said. “It’s gorgeous.”
For once, I had decided not to spoil someone else’s day by bringing up my apocalyptic concerns. I tried to “pass” as someone who really thought that 87 degrees in the northeast in mid-April was just wonderful.
On the other hand, maybe I’m selling other people short. Maybe everyone realizes that the climate situation is not good, but doesn’t want to bother other people with their concerns. Maybe it really is a case of the emperor having no clothes (and in this case, he’s taken his clothes off because it’s so hot!).
But perhaps I should look at the bright side. A wonderful metaphor for the United States as a country that has gained so much of its strength from its diverse immigrant population is that of the “melting pot.” Although the concept of multi-culturalism has made this term a little bit passé, still the notion of people coming from so many different lands and somehow learning to live together as Americans is wonderful. But now the concept can be extended with a slightly different meaning to the whole planet. The Earth is a melting pot. And in this case, I mean literally.
Writer’s note: The weather.com forecast for the day this piece comes out is for unseasonably cold weather. But that could be due to climate change too. Oy.