Cambrian: Slice of Life

Weather never used to scare me. Now — thanks to climate change — it can be terrifying

Adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when we’re dealing with ... climate change.

Oh my, I’m wading into argumentative territory here.

As a child back east, I used to love weather, the changes in the seasons, the beauty and ferocity of Mother Nature.

I skated on icy ponds, swam in warm ocean waters, giggled at the wild choreography of autumn leaves in the wind, sang and danced in the rain a la Gene Kelly. Bad weather? After the hurricane, a fishing boat took us to school.

But Mama Nature is not a happy parent these days. Her mood swings (bipolar, so to speak) can be terrifyingly extreme.

Her winds are stronger, earthquakes bigger (and in unusual places), rainstorms are prolonged deluges, droughts longer and more severe, and the intensities of her more frequent wildfires are off the charts.

Now, as a responsible adult, weather scares me.

Oh, I still love the sound of gentle rain on the roof, of wind in the eucalyptus leaves, the warmth of sun on my shoulders, the chill of snowflakes on my tongue.

But the flipside of those joys can be so dangerous.

Winds topple trees that can bring down power lines and hurt people and homes, especially when those winds become tornados, cyclones and hurricanes. Even an average storm can produce lightning, and when that storm also doesn’t produce rain... scary.

Heat can make people sick, and it sparks fires that can make people homeless. Or worse.

Cold freezes pipes and roads ... and can make people sick. Lots of rain means more weeds, which means more allergy and asthma attacks and more fire risk when summer dries those plants. Heavy rain causes floods. Drought parches the land, and we have to catch shower water in buckets so we can flush.

Before you start spewing political rhetoric at me, think about what I’m saying and what I’m not saying.

Climate. Change.

There’s no question our climate is changing, folks.

We’re really not arguing about obvious, undeniable changes that have been proven time and time again by statistics. The opinion flash points are the cause and potential permanence of those changes.

The cause? Humans? Normal cycles run amok? Anomalies that will straighten themselves out, given enough time? All of the above? Something else entirely?

I’m not well enough versed scientifically to knowledgeably target a single cause. Many learned scientists can. Some highly religious or politically devout people choose to point in another direction. I lean toward the scientific middle, but then I don’t believe the earth is flat, either.

No matter what you believe, the bottom line — the important part — is what’s next?

Even if you’re a fervently dyed-in-the-wool denier of man’s ability to affect Mother Nature’s moods and wild weather swings, you can still acknowledge that some things humans are doing just might be making things worse.

So, rather than shouting at each other over a philosophical fence, why don’t we just modify how we do the things we can change, just in case?

Isn’t that the grown-up philosophy behind exercising, eating a healthy diet, paying your bills, making out a will and carrying enough insurance? You don’t expect to have a heart attack, go into bankruptcy, die young, have an accident or have your house burn down. But responsible adults plan ahead, just in case.

So, go renewable, reusable, recycled, upcycled and downsized. What can it hurt to use a quickly compostable drinking straw, a reusable one, or no straw at all? Carry reusable shopping bags. Take that latte-to-go in a permanent travel mug — ours are stainless steel and almost indestructible.

Combine out-of-town shopping trips. Encourage manufacturers to use less packaging by buying products that aren’t mummified in plastic.

Right. It can’t hurt.

So, just do it.

Cumulatively, little things can make a big difference. Example: When we dine out, we bring our own reusable take-out containers in a discrete bag (and no, I wouldn’t take it to a five-Michelin-star restaurant ... but I don’t eat at one of those very often, do you?).

We do all those things now without even thinking about them anymore.

And I’m always on the lookout for other ways in which we can help the environment, even if each behavioral alteration is just a whisper in the wind.

Many whispers together can produce a storm of change. And that’s a kind of weather I can still love, even as a responsible, scaredy-cat adult.

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