Summer in Melbourne

Jeez, there wouldn’t be a lot left over if we couldn’t talk about the weather. The weather has always been a big topic of conversation in Melbourne, probably because the weather has always been so notoriously changeable here. At the very least our weather is quirky, and it’s certainly distinct, and not a little famous.

Unfortunately there are more ominous reasons to discuss weather these days. Global warming, climate change, etc, make it a headline item all over the world. Count me as one of the majority that believe that climate change is a thing, and that man and his excesses are largely responsible for it.

It’s hard to argue with the science, regardless of the luddites, flat-earthers and far right nut-jobs who do anyway. Unfortunately, in Australia at least, some of those nut-jobs have been running the show, which meant that policies to combat climate change were reversed, and then barely existent. That’s as it is today, despite the head nut-job getting kicked out. There’s a liberal leader, constrained by nut job dinosaurs in the party, which equate to high sounding promises and little practical action. Pardon the pun, but a bunch of hot air.

Hot air is very much the thing. I reckon there are hundreds of thousands of Aussies like me. I don’t need science to tell me that the climate has changed, and that the environment we live in is a lot warmer and drier than it used to be.

I’m always startled when I realise this. You’re sort of conditioned by school and science to think in geological time frames, and so you inherently believe that if change is to come it will be gradual. To my way of thinking that means barely discernible over a lifetime. In real life it’s a lot swifter than that.

I’m prudent when I cast my mind back to the old days. The natural inclination is to believe that it’s a lot different now, but you have to factor in the focus of looking back. Your memory is selective when it looks into the past. You remember things, people, moments, but the rest is pretty much a blur. You wonder if you see things differently from this distance, if the soft focus strips the detail and leaves only generalities. The question is: do you remember truly?

I can’t answer that. Short of hopping into a time machine there’s no way I can. Certainly I remember hot days when I was a kid, and many hot nights in a time before air-conditioning (fancy!). It wasn’t a thing though, but maybe that was because I was a kid. These are things I can’t say, yet the anecdotal memory I have suggests that it is much warmer now than it was then. It’s the vibe, but it’s not a vibe that can be dismissed.

I’m sitting here before my Mac and it’s just ticked past 9am. I’m in a pair of shorts and nothing else. It was hot yesterday, it’s going to be hotter today, and it’s already warm. It’s December, the coolest month of our summer always, and already we’ve had 8-10 days over 30 degrees. The average daily maximum this month has surpassed the long term average by a full 2 degrees plus.

Today they reckon 39 degrees. It’s not the hottest NYE I remember – it was about a stinking 43 degrees ten years ago, and I remember it well. Today comes as part of a pattern. A few moderate days, a warmer day, and steadily increasing heat between 35-40 degrees, before a change comes, and the pattern resets. As it stands we’re getting about two days a week above 35 degrees, and the hottest months are still ahead of us.

Hot as it has been here, if you live in Adelaide then you’ve been truly baked. December has been a shocking month for South Australians. The highs have been higher, and they’ve had more of them.

There have been times in the middle of a hot patch recently when I’ve wondered what it would be like if it was like this every day. There’s something about hot weather when you’re in the middle of it and the sky is painted on and the sun blazing and it feels timeless and eternal.

It’s nice to have warm weather, and not unpleasant when it’s hot if you’re near a beach or pool, or have good air-con. Too much of it though begins to suck the juice out of you. You’re never quite rested properly, you never get away from the heat, and you feel a creeping apathy – too fucking hot to do anything. These days when the cool change comes is greeted with universal relief, which is as much psychological as it is physical.

Thing is, are we heading to a time when it will be (something) like this everyday? I can survive this, but in 50 years from now, even if we have managed to restrict the temperature increase to less than the vaunted 2 degrees, it’s going to be bloody uncomfortable. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that something has to be done. We owe it to our children.

Sidenote: of course as I complain about the heat there are record floods in the north of England. There’s always some weird weather shit happening somewhere, and pretty well always a record. That’s definitely different from when I was a kid. Weather events are more extreme, and more regular – and they take on all different forms.

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