Seasons No Longer Exist, Only Hot And Cold
At this point in time, only the absolute staunchest, stubbornest deniers of climate change are able to pretend that we haven’t completely blown it. The ozone layer looks like a cargo net and people and corporations are still taking half-measures to seem like they’re helping while doing not nearly enough to actually avoid eventual catastrophe. Every check-in we do with climate scientists about our progress and our future is delivered with the quiet, panicked urgency of a 911 operator telling us to get out of the building as quickly as we can. Despite all this, the best we’ve been able to come up with is still “what if we used paper straws at coffee shops… sometimes?”
One thing that gives the dumbest among us fuel, like the calories in elementary school paste paste, was the ill-advised use of the phrase “global warming” for years and years. Scientists noticed some terrifying trends in global weather activity, came up with a name in order to tell people what was going on, and even now, that name is a mental hill too large to crest for the brains of a subset of the population. It’s the year 2022, we’ve got about as much evidence of climate change as we do for the hypothesis that sunlight aids plant growth, and still people are furrowing their brows on television and asking the camera, which they probably assume is some sort of large metal bird, “how can global warming be real when I saw a snowman this year?”
Now we know, of course, that climate change affects not just the warmest temperatures, but generally encourages extreme weather in both directions, including colder winters. We burned so much coal that we’re now trapped in a car fishtailing between record heat waves and unexpected blizzards. From the standpoint of predicting how this will worsen in the future, and the type of weather disasters like flooding and hurricanes that we’re already seeing, it’s pretty terrifying in an existential sense. However, this meteorological rubberbanding also, in a less academic way, just sucks big time to live through.
There are four seasons in the year. At least, at some point, that is what I was taught. It was ingrained into my head, as it is with all humans, from a young age, via everything from ironing the changing leaves between two pieces of wax paper to the central gameplay mechanic of Game Boy Zelda games. Each has their own de facto logo: the sun for summer, a leaf for fall, snowflake for winter, and flowers for spring, unless you live somewhere like Australia where summer is cold and winter is hot, which still seems like black magic to me. The thing is, though, that over the last couple years, I’m not sure I remember actually… experiencing fall or spring.
Now, I’m not a meteorologist, and the only degree I do hold is in fine art, which is a lot more helpful in understanding Adobe Creative Suite than any sort of actual weather data. That will not stop me, however, from loudly complaining in an anecdotal sense about a new hypothesis I have cooked up: Fall and Spring are gone forever.
The seasons I remember of old just don’t ring true to me anymore. Months of leaves turning from green to brown, trickling down on gusts of wind to decorate trails and college campuses feels like it’s been replaced by sudden cold fronts around mid-october, with trees switching from lively and green to bare in seconds, like the scalp of a recruit in the first scene of an army movie. I am sweating through every piece of clothing I own through late September and then getting pneumonia on Halloween. And as an east coaster who loves Zoloft and light jackets, the amount to which I will miss fall cannot be overstated.
Spring also feels like it’s been skipped the last few years. This year, even the blooming of the cherry blossoms in Washington DC was met with anticlimax when the blooms were immediately killed with a cold snap. Three weeks ago the idea of outdoor dining would have been insane and now it’s 90 degrees during the day in New York. This is, to use the academic term, f**ked.
In my entirely unscientific opinion, that I will nevertheless defend with fury, we are entering a new age, an age where there are only two definable seasons within the year. Those seasons are no more complicated than Hot and Cold. I could not even tell you what 65 degrees feels like anymore, because it’s a temperature that, where I live, is only now reached for the span of three minutes at dawn. For the rest of my life I will be either sweaty or freezing. Those are the only two options now. We are starting to have the yearly weather cycle of a fantasy novel. Spring, summer, fall, winter? No. Now there is only the time of Ice and the time of Fire.
Thirty years from now, we will be sitting with our children around a burning pile of holo-newspapers, wrapping them in rat furs trying to stave off the sub-zero temperatures of a late October night while they still have a sunburn from an early October heat wave. We’ll tell them stories of leaves falling from trees with beautiful ruby-red coloring, and flowers blooming. Then the air raid sirens will sound and we will return to our tunnels.