When I first moved to Tucson, 17 years ago this summer, the weather was pretty predictable. No rain from March to July. Monsoon daily at 3:30 p.m. from July to September. Weather perfection throughout October, which became my favorite time of year here. You’d get a little winter rain in December and January, and have to put on long pants and a sweater, but come February it’d start warming up and you’d start it all over. This went on for years. But in the last few years, things have been changing.
We’ve been experiencing some unseasonably cool temperatures and unexpected rain here in the Old Pueblo of late, and people are rejoicing. Desert dwellers always celebrate rain, both because we need it, lest the state go up in flames later this summer, and because it’s novel. I come from a cold, dark place; I never tire of sunshine, but other people like the variety.
But every time someone comments on the “beautiful” weather we’re having, I really can’t join them in their appreciation. Because while I enjoy a reprieve from what is usually pretty punishing heat by this time of year as much as anyone, the only reason we’re having this “beautiful” weather is because climate change is a real thing, and we have seriously fucked up our environment. We’re not supposed to have rain in Tucson at this time of year. It’s not supposed to be cool. The wind is not supposed to be gusting for months on end. This isn’t right. But it’s happening. I don’t care what some idiots in the government say; if you’ve lived on this planet for more than 20 years, you’ve seen with your own eyes the changes, as they’re happening. It takes a special kind of mind to deny your own lived experience, but people are doing it. They’re doing it every time they comment on the “beautiful” weather without acknowledging WHY we we’re having it. This beautiful weather. Last winter’s horrendous storms. The increased number of hurricanes. It’s all the same deal.
I feel like Lara watching Krypton’s last moments. Sure, it’s impressive, and beautiful in its way, but it is NOT good news. And according to the scientists, we may be too far gone to save ourselves. At least not without radical global change. And we humans are not really good with radical change unless we have no other option. The fact that my recycling bin is always fuller than my garbage bin and I drive a small car with good gas mileage isn’t going to do it. I’m not sure what will. Giving up on rampant consumerism might help. Giving up our commitment to suck every last bit of oil and natural gas out of the Earth and getting serious about wind, water, and solar might help. Not being stupider than the average hamster, and finally getting the concept that we (and the factories we run) shouldn’t shit where we eat might help. I’m sure there are other things, but I’m also sure that the vast majority of the folks in first-world countries will have to be doing them in order for it to make any kind of difference. I find myself counting on the fact that I have no descendants to worry about, and that I’ll probably be dead before it gets really, really bad and we’re fighting each other tooth and nail over the last gallon of bottled water and squirreled-away bag of ramen.
So I’ll put on my sweater in May, and let the June rain water my plants, because what else ya gonna do? But I can’t really get excited about this weather. The subtext is just a little too scary.