Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, it doesn't go away. ~ Philip K. Dick
Hotter Than Ever
It is hard to imagine that autumn is here already, but it is.
With the autumnal equinox (September 22), fall arrived, but it sure does not feel like it. Summer is pretty persistent these days, and here on the Central Gulf Coast we had an usually hot one this year – which is saying something for Florida. This should not come as much of a surprise, however, since August and July tied for the hottest months on record; and, as reported by NASA, "each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month in the modern temperature record."
As we enter October, memories of seasons past suggest that there should have been a cool spell or two by now – a hint of fall, at least. Not this year, unless you count the few sub-90-degree days in early September when Hurricane Hermine passed by. We've not only been in the 90s, we've often been in the mid-90s, with more than a few 95-degree days in July and August, and now September.
In this part of Florida, the average high for the summer months is 90 degrees – exactly. A cursory check of Tampa's high temperatures shows we've been at or above that most days (about 80% of the time), with plenty of days in the 93-96 range throughout the summer.
This is incredibly hot for Florida, and more than a few folks have remarked to me that they do not remember it ever being this hot. I don't either, and I've lived here for more than 60 years.
Then, again, I've never experienced the impact of climate change. None of us have.
But we all are now, and this summer is just a hint of what will come – and here in the United States, we have it so much better, so much easier than the rest of the world.
We Have It Easier Than Others
We have it so much easier that we can simply ignore the consequences of anthropogenic climate change. We can affirm that we are not scientists and so do not have a clue about what is going on. We can turn down the thermostat. We can claim that taking action to combat climate change will harm the economy, so we shouldn't do anything. We can change the channel when stories of drought and famine come on the TV. We can support candidates and a political party that do not believe in anthropogenic climate change – as though it were a matter of belief.
It is not a matter of life and death for us. We need not concern ourselves with the impact of climate change on our water supply and our food supply. We do not need to struggle to prevent heat stroke. We are not in a situation where we have to watch our crops wither and die, our farm animals perish, our little ones cry for want of food. Not yet anyway – and probably not for little while longer.
We can ignore the wildfires in the American west, rising sea levels that are already flooding streets along the Eastern Seaboard, the slow death of the Indian River Lagoon and the sudden death of Black Skimmers on St. Pete Beach, Zika babies – and even the heat.
Future Falls In The World To Come
Oppressive, mind-numbing heat, is not the half of it. The high temperatures of this past summer and our current fall are just warning signs, and temperatures will be higher still in years to come. Imagine that.
As I reflect on the world to come, I realize today's children will look back at September 2016 and likely remember it somewhat like I remember Septembers of my youth, 50 or so years ago – as cooler than it is in that future time of theirs. Consider a world, when 90 degree days are cool – a least in memories. I think of babies being born today, and consider their life in 60 years – 2076. The United States will be celebrating its tri-centennial. How hot will it be then? What will those celebrations be like?
Too often we hear scary projections introduced with the tired old rhetoric: "If current trends continue…." I suspect most folks tune out what comes after such introductions. I also suspect most folks already know exactly what will come if current trends continue; and I suspect they know exactly what will come even if they don't believe in climate change –as though it was a matter of belief.
SOURCES & ADDITIONAL READING
Philip K. Dick quote from: "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later." See http://deoxy.org/pkd_how2build.htm
Dell deChant is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida. He is a Master Instructor and has served at USF since 1986. The author of three books, over 30 articles in professional publications, and chapters in twelve books, deChant's specialization is religion and contemporary cultures. His current research focuses on the religious and ecological dimensions of food production as it manifests in American popular culture and religion.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!