When you find yourself gazing into an ochre sky and feeling grateful that the wildfire smoke is going to keep the predicted high temperatures down, you know we’ve turned a corner. You check your app for local fires the way some people check the stock market. How’s Juniper Creek coming along? Is the Lookout fire contained? At some point we’re just going to run out of trees, right? Oh good. It’s just Canada. Canada is on fire.
Somewhere in this world there’s a hurricane with a creamy center of plague locusts. Somewhere in Siberia a virus that took down a mastodon and had to take a nap for a few thousand years is waking up and feeling its microbial oats. Somewhere in the world a tectonic plate is shrugging free of that nagging glacier weight.
Trouble with that dang corner we turned is, we turned it a long time ago. Decades ago. A whole lot of people made a fuss about it, desperately tugging at the world’s sleeve as it turned the corner, but they didn’t have the juice to do anything about it. And now we’ve got hundred-year disasters racked up so deep they’re shouldering each other aside and lighting out for new territories. Tornadoes are dipping their pointy little toes into New England. Alaska has to import snow for the Iditarod. Here in moist, mild Portland, someone left the broiler on.
Rainfall and temperature records are smashed daily, and those were records set last year, when they smashed the previous records. The important thing to remember, when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, sweltering, watching our trees crisp up and die, seeing our houses crumble and fall into the sea, is that we need to keep our perspective. This isn’t the worst it’s ever been. It’s the best it will ever be!
Right here in my neighborhood we can see half-dead trees on every block, victims of a three-day heat event two years ago. Western red cedars have flourished here for thousands of years but they’re on the way out, and fast. Land can go to desert in a hurry. People everywhere are going to be on the move for water and food and shelter and to escape the inevitable wars over vanishing resources. You can’t build a wall high enough to fend them off, not even if you stack up all the polar bears and dead coral.
All of this is no surprise, and easily explained. One thing that isn’t is the number of people who still insist here’s nothing happening here. Why, it was hotter in the summer of 1936 than it is today! Who’s the fool now?
According to the Washington Post poll, Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over the causes of extreme weather. All Republican candidates and most Republican voters have concluded global warming is a hoax, based on the observation that scientists think they’re smarter than everyone else and someone needs to give them a swirly. Democrats and home-insurance providers sharply disagree.
“I’ve always rejected the politicization of the weather,” explained Florida’s Ron DeSantis. “Blub blub,” he elucidated later.
These people need to be introduced to the hockey stick. The famous metaphorical hockey stick refers to the graph of global temperatures for the last thousand years, which is essentially flat as a hockey stick handle, even taking into account various warming and cooling periods, and then abruptly shoots skyward like the blade of the stick right around a hundred years ago. And the trajectory of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere tracks that graph as tight as a dick in a condom. Only without any protective qualities.
At this point if our friends cannot draw any sane conclusions from the hockey stick graph, they should be introduced to an actual hockey stick upside the head. And this goes double for Republican politicians who attempted to solve the crisis years ago by making fun of Al Gore, and now hope we can be distracted by a puppet show of drag queens and pronoun nazis. There isn’t a hockey stick big enough to take them all out. We’ll have to do it vote by vote, and take the last few petroleum-based Democrats out with them, and we’d better do it soon.
Because the only thing the scientists got wrong is how fast it’s happening.