36 degrees celsius. 102 degrees fahrenheit. These don’t feel like real temperatures, until you’re outside and walking around. And I’m just walking around. I’m not working in a field or on a construction site. I’m not in a factory or kitchen or booth somewhere with minimal breaks. I have access to and can afford to run fans and air conditioning. I grew up in a place that taught me how to dress for hot weather and how not to fetishize the sun when shade is right there.
A couple of years ago, when I worked for a fancy tech company with an on-the-record commitment to environmentalism and sustainability, I emailed one of the operations team about the deeply insufficient shade situation at various of the shuttle stops. The response was a mix of “well wait in a nearby building” (not feasible if you didn’t have badge access to those buildings, as I delicately noted to them in the context of the exchange) and “eh well we don’t control construction decisions.”
I think about how different it feels to walk, run, bike, and live in places that have better tree cover and more green spaces compared with ones that (deliberately, as ever) don’t.
I think about the reality that the island where I grew up and where I learned how to handle hot weather may well sink into the sea because of climate change and a political and regulatory environment that allowed, nay encouraged, practices like sand mining.
This is here and this is now, and the question is, as ever: what’s the plan? And who is your plan for?
my family drowns again
on a microphone for strangers
gnarled white hands grab everywhere
we’ll put you before the money pitch
— from in a room of “climate change activists” by Isabella Borgeson