“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
— Charles Dudley Warner
No, Mark Twain didn’t originate that catchy line.
But yes, some folks are finally doing something about the weather.
Or are they?
Twain, though widely given credit for the opening quote, actually borrowed it for the lecture circuit from his pal Warner, with whom he wrote 1873’s “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.”
So would Warner — and Twain — be relieved by the climate conference accord reached in Paris 17 days ago?
Should it reassure you?
After all, it aims to do something about the weather — or to be more semantically precise, the climate.
OK, so it’s a non-binding agreement that’s not scheduled to be signed until April by representatives of the 195 nations that agreed to it.
Still, it sets the goal to deliver a “peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.”
It also calls for limiting “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Centigrade [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C [2.7 °F] above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
Maybe you share scientists’ widespread consensus that man-made climate change is a real and risky deal.
Maybe you still buy Rush Limbaugh’s increasingly preposterous pitch that man-made climate change is a “hoax” perpetuated by the left to “fleece” us Americans with, among other perceived big-government horrors, a carbon tax.
Yet this bizarre Isle of Palms spectacle on Sunday was no optical illusion:
Numerous swimmers, surfers, and boogie and paddle boarders were frolicking in the Atlantic without benefit of wet suits.
What was wrong that picture?
It was disorienting,
So is the ongoing sight of azaleas blooming near year’s end.
Just as there’s a reason for the Christmas season, there’s a reason for seasonal changing of the weather.
the agricultural consequences of climate change when it disrupts regular patterns of crop growth.
critters’ weather-induced confusion about where and when to migrate, hibernate and gestate.
how hard it has been to get into the high holiday spirits amid high temperatures.
that it was 81 degrees Monday at the Charleston International Airport — and 72 degrees on Christmas Eve in New York City.
Now consider this even more alarming headline on our front page Monday:
“Severe weather kills at least 24, Dozens injured in Texas tornadoes, Midwest flooding”
Consider, too, storm-tested colleague Bo Petersen’s front-page story today about the strange weather we’ve experienced lately — and more of it to come.
And consider that Charleston officials, recognizing an ascending menace, have developed a Sea Level Rise Strategy Plan.
Outgoing (both in personality and short-timer status) Mayor Joe Riley, citing that project, wrote last week in a letter to City Council:
“In the 1970s Charleston experienced an average of 2 days of tidal flooding per year and it is projected that the City could experience 180 days of tidal flooding in 2045. Identifying initiatives that will improve our ability to withstand these effects is timely.”
So how can we identify a silver lining on the darkening climate-change cloud?
No offense to the relative newcomers (including some relatives) in our midst, but there has been a sharply rising human tide in these parts over the last few decades.
Well, among other local draws that make Charleston is a top tourist — and relocation — destination, it is America’s most polite city and a mecca of fascinating history.
Plus, Charleston has the South’s Oldest Daily Newspaper.
And plenty of people from colder places find our weather quite inviting — with the obvious exceptions of June, July and August.
However, now that it’s too hot here in December, perhaps it soon will be way too hot here from March through October. And maybe now that it’s not as cold as it used to be in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, fewer of those fine people who still live up there will want to move down here.
Maybe even a few of our recent seemingly permanent newcomers will, like migratory birds adjusting to weather changes, go back to whence they came.
Meanwhile, regardless of where you’re from or going, lest the climate or any other topic overheat you, heed this advice from Washington Irving:
“An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.