Sunday, December 27, 2015

Global Warping

Not my term, but something I saw while wandering around on the internet. It seems very appropriate for the strange weather patterns we have been seeing.
Today, I stepped out for my morning walk in late December, wearing a light windbreaker jacket, in case of rain. A few minutes later, I gave up on the jacket, and took it off, tying it around the waist and rolling up the sleeves of my sweater. It was practically hot! 64 degrees F at this time of the year! Not unheard of.
I faintly remember going out in a T-shirt and jeans on a Christmas eve about 20 odd years ago, chasing after a toddler son who was wearing just a light newly-knit sweater and cap in addition to his usual sleeper. So the temperature may not have been unprecedented. What is strange however is that this stream of warmish spring-in-winter days have been going on for more than a few weeks.
The trees are confused- Fir trees sagging instead of standing tall and crisp in the snow that is more usual. Oak trees still wondering whether to finish dropping their leaves or not. Moss and lichens growing on the barks, making merry with the unexpected warmth and humidity. Hyacinth and daffodil bulbs deciding that their winter's sleep must be over and putting out cautious little shoots.
The roads are dead silent, no cars rushing about, it is still early Sunday morning. Only the crows hold argumentative congress on the trees "Is this global warming or not?", they cackle and heckle across the roads. A couple of robins and starlings settle on the tree branches, adding to a minor chorus counterpoint to the crows.
A fat-bottomed raccoon waddles unconcernedly across the road, and it must be really disoriented. It does not turn to look at me as I walk briskly towards it. It's following another raccoon that sped across to the large lawn nearby.
So much for local phenomena. In Trivandrum, I hear my mother talk of wearying daily rain, pouring off the newly installed "super-roof" with a steeper pitch to promote the roll off of water instead of stagnating on a flat-roofed terrace and seeping into the concrete. The repainting of the house is done, but it's taking forever to dry, an activity planned for when December was known for hot days and cool nights but instead has turned into rainy days and chillier nights.
Chennai reels under 100-year floods, the likes of which last occurred in 2005, but had less to lose at that time. Ten years of complacency led to rampant building in low-lying areas as builders saw their opportunity to cash in on the insatiable need for land and housing. Now several of those sparkling new homes sit in the middle of flood zones, while old paths for the water of the rivers are clogged with refuse. The heavy non-stop rains are unusual, but again not unprecedented.
Will these remain unusual or will they become the new norm? That remains to be seen, but call  it what you will, times are a-changing, and it's only the foolish who do not learn to adapt.