Lovely Weather We're HavingAt one time polite society dictated that the safest topic of conversation in a mixed social setting was the weather. After all, it is one of the things almost everyone agrees on--whether its cloudy or fair, warm or cool, etc. No one really takes offense at any of this. If one is daring one could even offer an opinion on the weather and be so bold as to express a preference for one type of weather over another. Still, weather is a topic in which almost all opinions expressed don't seem to offend anyone's religion, class, background or upbringing and so are easily tolerated.
This morning when I went outside, I felt as if I had stepped into the Twilight Zone. The weather has been so unseasonably warm lately and temperatures are expected to approach 70 degrees this weekend. Now, I love warm weather. I really do. I much prefer summer to winter. I love going to the beach, dining al fresco and not being weighed down by the confines of a heavy coat. Normally I welcome a few days of a warm spell in the middle of the winter but this is ridiculous. It feels creepy. It's been like this since Thanksgiving practically. When I go outside into this warm weather I don't think "isn't this lovely--feels like srpingtime!" instead I think "isn't this scary--feels like global warming."
Coincidentally, when I turned on NPR this morning Brian Lehrer was taking calls from people discussing what kind of plans they had for the warm weather this weekend. The Meteorologist who writes the weather page for the New York Times was on hand to shed some light on the current weather pattern. Brian asked if any of these warm temperatures are was the result of global warming. The meteorologist then talked a lot about the jet stream but barely touched the topic of global warming saying it "may or may not" have something to do with it. This of course offers no information. I could have come up with that conclusion.
So why, I thought, is this meteorologist afraid to discuss the impact of global warming on weather patterns? Oh, I know, because if you do discuss that you have to first believe it exists. If you believe, as modern science does, that global warming exists you end up aligning yourself with certain political beliefs which go against the current administration's belief that there is still inconclusive evidence on the subject. Discussing global warming might make the meteorologist come off as some crazy wild-eye liberal (as if his affiliation with the NY Times wasn't enough). So even the weather is politicized in this country these days. By the end of the program, in true New York form, a listener who is a climatologist called in and set the record straight about global warming's impact. The meteorologist then listed a half-hearted counter argument.
The other topic of conversation that was always considered safe was everyone's health. But these days that could lead to conversations about diseases and cures which might bring up the subject of stem-cell research. And who wants to open that can or worms at a dinner party?