Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Cold Is Back

But even in the seven years I've lived in Chicago, it's been clear that these are less and less the Chicago winters of legend. This one has thus far contained only one serious snow, only one major-league freeze (the worms in my outdoor worm bin survived it), and while there's been a lot of bleakness, I wonder if I only get to look forward to more.

Welcome to a vague, stream-of-consciousness post.

Lately, I feel like the result of An Inconvenient Truth is that "global warming/climate crisis" has become synonymous with "Al Gore." The last line of a Times article about ice fishing industry in Buffalo, where the water is now failing to freeze for the second winter in a row, quoted a local as saying, "We hope Al Gore is wrong." A Sun-Times headline last week inquired delicately, "IS AL GORE RIGHT?" My concern, then, is that the course of action taken regarding global warming by the common American man or woman will be based upon his/her opinion, past and future, of Al Gore himself. Which could well mean once again that this becomes a partisan issue. I recognize partisan issues as an inevitability, but I'm also bloody sick of 'em. New islands have been revealed around Greenland and the North Pole by melting ice, ferfuckssake! This really isn't up for debate anymore. Can we at least move on to debating what actions to take as a result of this truth?

I am sympathetic to the ice fishers and the providers of their supplies in Buffalo and elsewhere; I'm sure this is even scarier than it already would be if your livelihood depends on seasonal conditions that are gradually disappearing. But can't you take responsibility for your role, as a human being, in creating these clearly extraordinary conditions?

There are many seasonal markers now that I really expect will be gone by the end of my life. We're losing myriad metaphors, cultural experiences (as elucidated, sort of, in Lois Lowry's The Giver), regional defining factors. Yes, they'll change into something else, not just disappear altogether. And we can't erase the past or try to go back to it; it's going to be a different climate, a different world, no matter what we do because it already is and always is. We don't get to skip over or eliminate, say, the Industrial Revolution, which is my first impulse of desire whenever I consider our circumstances. But instead of deciding whether we like Al Gore, I want to put some serious thought into "what else."

2 Comments:

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Connor said...

It's really frustrating, but I think the Al Gore thing is more of a symptom than a problem itself. That is, as soon as people *do* take it seriously, Gore's role in the whole thing will be incidental. The fact that people *can* dodge the facts with a personality is more indicative of how seriously they're taking the facts (ie. not very seriously).

Thee's still enough division on this issue that those who want to ignore it simply will, and that minus a debate.

At the risk of being cheeky, I wish Greenhouse gases made the world too cold and not too hot. If only because people have a lot less tolerance and patience for superlong winters, and might be less likely to "look on the bright side of altering global chemistry."

People will come around eventually, I think, but whether we've gone from simmer to full boil by then is worrysome.

 
At 6:53 PM, Anonymous tyromaven said...

hey, look how timely:

www.climatechicago.org

Saturday, Jan 20!
Come!

 

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