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 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