Indignity Vol. 2, No. 89: This weather is bad.


Indignity Vol. 2, No. 89: This weather is bad.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, NOV. 6, 2022—Monarch butterfly caterpillar feasts on moldering milkweed plants. (Photo: Joe MacLeod)

The Climate Is Worse

THE WEATHER IS horrifying. Right now, on November 7, I have the windows open in the apartment in New York City, and I'm sweating a little in shorts and a t-shirt. The temperature is in the mid 70s and the relative humidity percentage is in the mid 60s. The hot tea I'm drinking is making me sweat more. There was a fruit fly buzzing over the peeled oranges left over from breakfast. Citrus season has begun; soon it will be time for people, or Santa Claus, to put oranges in Christmas stockings.

Will it still be sweltering then? Things are supposed to improve later today. A long-awaited cold front is coming through. It's called a "cold front," but practically speaking, it's a normal front. For November 8, 2022, with the benefit of this cold front knocking 20 degrees off the temperature, the forecast high will be 56, with a low of 40. For comparison, over the past three decades, according to the National Weather Service, the average high and low temperatures for November 8 were 57 and 44.

And after that brief gust of cool air passes, the forecast is creeping back up to the mid to upper 60s for Friday and Saturday, 10 degrees above normal. And rainy.

I used to hate and dread November because it was when the year turned fully cold and fully dark, with no going back till spring. That was the 20th century. The 21st century November is rank and soggy. And there's no going back at all. In my native Baltimore, yesterday, Joe saw a monarch caterpillar feasting on a rotting milkweed plant.

The New York Times sent Bret Stephens, the global-warming denialist they hired for ideological diversity, on a trip to Greenland so that he could see the ice melting there and concede, at last, for thousands of words, that the climate catastrophe exists. When I float over the tab in my browser, a little pop-up box reads "Opinion | Climate Change Is Real." Then it reads: "Markets, Not Governments, Offe..." Stephens' conclusion is that, although he was entirely wrong about the existence of global warming, by some lucky chance his preferred policy choices and attitude toward the problem—that government action can't help, and that activists are annoying—are still the correct ones, while the people who were right about global warming are wrong about how to respond to it.

Who needs to go to Greenland? The ruining of the climate is an incomprehensibly vast phenomenon but it's also crawling right into your bed and draping itself over your body, as you toss and turn in the November heat. One point three million people have been displaced by floods in Nigeria, to go with the 33 million displaced by floods in Pakistan. The United Nations is convening another climate summit right now, in Egypt. Climate protesters keep throwing food at famous paintings to get attention, in the hopes that the attention can be turned toward the climate. How much effort does it take not to notice what's happened, and what's happening?