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  • Robert Farago

Sun, Sun, Sun... Here We Come!

The answer to our current heat wave

A couple of hundred years ago, “alabaster” skin was in. Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch), Emma Woodhouse (Emma), Lucy Snowe (Villette), Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) – all described by their creators as white AF (paraphrasing).

Of course, you can’t say that these days, as Bard reminded me in no uncertain terms…

It is important to note that the celebration of white skin in these novels is a reflection of the time in which they were written. These novels were all published in the 19th century, when white supremacy was a dominant ideology in Western society.
The authors of these novels were simply reflecting the values of their time, and they did not necessarily mean to endorse the idea that white skin is superior to other skin colors.
However, it is also important to be aware of the ways in which these novels can perpetuate harmful stereotypes about race and beauty. The celebration of white skin in these novels can contribute to the idea that white people are inherently superior to people of color.

The authors didn’t necessarily mean to be racist. Nice. Anyway, Tempus fugit.

These days, authors can no more present a character’s white skin as a symbol of purity than they can present a character’s dark skin as a sign of depravity. That shit is done.

Nowadays, a tan is a sign of a caucasian’s health. Well, maybe not so much.

Despite the dermatological lobby’s best interest, the government launched a “don’t drink and drive”-like campaign against unprotected sun exposure. The Aussie’s called it “Slip, slop and slap” (and missed an ideal opportunity to set it to music).

For those who got the memo but still want that golden glow, the spray tanning industry is happy to oblige.

What’s that Bard? “There is some evidence that the chemicals used in fake tans, such as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer.”

Sigh. The sun seems determined to kill us all, one way or another. As if you didn’t know.

Holy shit it’s hot. I can’t remember the last time it wasn’t eleventy-billion degrees.

That said, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. Oh wait. I haven’t had breakfast. Hang on…

As I passed my condo’s thermostat, I noticed that the PC PC reset itself to 76 degrees. Fuck that shit.

Of course, resetting the temp down to a comfort setting makes me culpable for the fact that the Earth is baking, the seas are rising and polar bears are extinct. About that…

In his 2006 mockumentary An Inconvenient Truth, Albert Arnold Gore Jr. included a graph predicting that the Arctic would be ice-free by the summer of 2013. No ice, no polar bears.

Don’t laugh. As of today, August 8, 2023, there are 93 days of summer left. The polar bears are not out of the woods yet (so to speak). And anyway, Gore said melting Arctic sea ice could lead to the polar bears’ extinction if nothing was done to address climate change.

Don’t look at me. I can’t drive 55 and I can’t stand 76. Besides, it’s too late. All those years I spent driving an SUV and flying hither and yon in carbon-spewing aircraft? The damage is done. The sun is frying the earth, leading to significant changes in human behavior.

Mr. Palmer’s song Night People foreshadowed (literally) the transition to doing shit at night, when the sun takes a powder.

Don’t take my word for it. Leap the pay wall to check out Midnight Dog Walks and 1 a.m. Shopping: The Heat Has People Living at Night. According to The Wall Street Journal, night people are…

…transforming ordinarily desolate night-scapes and compelling businesses to adjust their operations, creating a new after-dark economy that exists outside of clubs and partying. Couples are working out near midnight; families are running errands after the sun sets, and construction crews are starting work at 4 a.m….
Lime, an electric-scooter company, has seen a 25% uptick in ridership between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. and a 2% uptick between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. in July compared with February in Austin and Corpus Christi, Texas, where daytime temperatures have consistently surpassed 90 degrees.

Nice try WSJ. Austin’s been over 100 degrees for the last 19 days. And counting. And while anyone with half a brain waits for the sun to go down before doing anything outdoors, sunset offers precious little relief.

We’ve had nights where it’s 100 degrees at midnight. As you can see from the image above, 7am is the only time where the sun isn’t hellaciously homicidal.

Which is when I ride my motorcycle. By 8am, when the sun crests Bat City’s skyscrapers, riding my bike is bat shit crazy, risking spontaneous combustion.

I know: this post’s subhead promised an answer to the current and maybe future heatwaves. Here’s my thinking…

In the 1970s, we were warned about global cooling. Prominently promulgated by Paul Ehrlich’s tome The Coming Ice Age, the prognostication’s proponents’ predicted a period of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, based on data from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s.

The culprit? Aerosols! “Atmospheric aerosols affect the climate of the earth by changing the amount of incoming solar radiation and outgoing terrestrial longwave radiation retained in the earth's system,” informs.

And so aerosols were dutifully demonized. Their use declined dramatically. Well… put our tax dollars to work combatting climate change! A can of spray deodorant in every pot! Oh and find a way to make volcanos erupt. wikipedia:

Volcanoes are a large natural source of aerosol and have been linked to changes in the earth's climate… Eruptions linked to changes in climate include the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo which caused a global cooling of approximately 0.5 °C lasting several years.

Humans’ and polar bears’ existence depends on cooling Mother Earth. As does my ability to enjoy motorcycling at a decent hour. Meanwhile, stay out of the sun y’all. Hope and spray for cooler weather.

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