We’re coming up on Memorial Day, and it looks like it’s going to be a moderately nice weekend. Highs in the seventies, partly cloudy, chance of showers. Personally, I hope the chance of showers doesn’t actualize into real showers. I’d like Coney Island to have a good kick-off to its season.
The warmer weather means that the Climate Change deniers who have spent the winter gloating (not that they have a reason to) now settle down to a summer of sullenly denying that this hurricane or that drought has anything to do with Global Warming.
The problem, of course, is that Climate Change has become a political shibboleth. Climate Change has become associated with tree-hugging environmentalist hippies (who are, of course, trying to use it as a tool to institute Marxism), so conservatives deny it exists by pure reflex…mostly. There are some who know better. Perhaps their example can be instructive.
My father and my uncles are pretty conservative guys in a lot of ways. No great surprise for white men in their fifties and sixties who were born, bred, raised and spent their lives in central New York. For those of you who only imagine the City when you hear the words “New York”, well…there’s some truth to that. Out of 19 million people who live in New York State, approximately nine million live in New York City itself, 12 million in the greater New York City area.
Still, New York State is a very big place. Once you get outside the rarefied atmosphere of the City (and maybe Albany), you see a lot of things that wouldn’t be out of place in the rural South: pickup trucks, gun racks, country music, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, chewing tobacco, signs about Jesus on the roadside, and even a few Confederate flags.
I’m not exaggerating even a little. My family and I laugh at Jeff Foxworthy’s routine and say “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true”, and if you could hear me speak, you’d hear the faintest lingering hints of a drawl.
One of my uncles is a minister of the kind of Christian denomination that refuses to name their denomination, because “We’re not religious; we have a relationship with Jesus Christ.” The rest are blue-collar workers. Two of them are (or were; some have retired) the truck driver sons of a truck driver.
And yet none of these men doubts that Climate Change is a thing. Not one. It’s not even a matter for discussion or debate. It’s a fact. Climate Change is a thing that is happening.
How can this be? Because in addition to being quite conservative, every one of these men is an ice fisherman. Every winter, they go out on one local lake or another, cut a hole through the ice, and fish through it.
I don’t see the appeal either.
In order to participate in the nose-numbing sport of ice fishing, you of course need ice thick enough to support you. A good foot or so will do.
How is this relevant? For the last twenty years, these men have watched the season for their sport get shorter and shorter. Every year, the ice takes a little bit longer to form, and it thaws a little bit sooner.
Winter is still cold, of course. The lakes still freeze, and the snow still gets deep. But still, they can look at past winters – and not the nostalgic winters of some rose-colored youth, but as recently as the Nineties – and see a time when the season for their sport was weeks longer. Winter is not as cold, for as long, as it once was.
It makes me wonder what percentage of Climate Change deniers live in Southern States, where the effects aren’t as easy to see with their own eyes, and count in terms of days they can participate in one of their sports. Droughts, floods and hurricanes have always happened, and if you close your eyes, plug your ears and ignore your thermometer, you can argue that the ones we get today are no different. But an ice-fishing season that starts almost a month later than it once did, and ends almost a month sooner, cannot be ignored.