Offbeat 06 November 2015
The most recent shock climate headline tells me that a large part of the Middle East will become uninhabitable in a bunch of decades. I thought it was already unlivable due to the other men in black, and judging by the hordes of refugees. Apparently I am wrong. Heat will have even ISIS heading for whatever boats and dinghies they can lay their hands on.
The problem seems to be a thing called a wet-bulb temperature of 35 degrees. From what I can gather to record a wet bulb temperature, you soak some cloth in distilled water and wrap it around the bulb of a thermometer. The moment the mercury hits 35 degrees, everyone dies, sort of like the zombie apocalypse.
Obviously, you should never, ever wrap wet cloth around the bulb of a thermometer in the Middle East, because ISIS will abduct you, or at least you should leave before the wet cloth gets to about 34 degrees.
I can say this with some kind of levity because the Middle East is always in meltdown, even when it snows. If you want political correctness and sensitivity at this point, stop reading now. You will be better of with a therapist. Those guys are trained to be smooth, not me.
I know there are nay-sayers to global warming out there, ‘The Walking Biltong’, folks who still believe that the tumbling records are not a thing to be worried about. I am not one of them. Heat bugs me. And the idea of sleeping through the hottest hours of the day, and working by night, doesn’t work for me. Sweat gets in my eyes.
I spoke to a weather guy about the local heat a couple of weeks ago. He said the whole heatwave rumour was gibberish, a non-story, and that just one extra hot day does not constitute a heat crisis, rather an isolated event. Apparently we were able to breathe, unlike the meme that caused panic told us. He must be right. I am not dead yet, just panting.
He gave me a bit of useful extra thought. A heat wave is a noticeable increase over the average, over a period of time, in a certain area. For instance, a heatwave in Johannesburg may be a normal week in a Namibian summer. All heatwaves are not created equal.
My pets however did not pay much attention when I explained it to them. They seem to think it is very hot, and they don’t go outside willingly, unless I put food out and drag them out physically. The dog and cat spend the day in the bedroom where the curtains are closed to reduce their exposure to UV, I suppose. The dog won’t even shift himself to go outside and bark at passing strangers or say hello to the neighbour’s dog.
I am torn between the two sides of the argument. In the absence of a simple graph that shows everything clearly to me, I think I have to go with the observable behaviour of my pets and say that it is unpleasantly hot again. Part of my unhappy relationship with the heat of summer is childhood programming. The observable influence of the adults around me was to get out of the sun, go somewhere cool and complain that it was hotter than ever, and how they wished the tardy rain would arrive. I remember one summer when the temperature hung over the 30 degree mark for a couple of weeks, and how they all lost their tempers, like dominoes falling, one after another. I wonder what those adults might have said about the weather now?
Another part of my issue with heat must be my genetic propensity to sweat. I value my ability to stay clean, and I hate the squelchy quality of perspiration. Summer challenges me to stay sweat-free every year. Unfortunately it always wins in the end.
This summer I am thinking of keeping a bowl of water and a cloth next to my desk. The obvious solution of air-conditioning seems unpatriotic now that we have a potential energy crisis in Namibia, so I am delaying the air-blower for as long as possible, again.
I was made for a cold climate it seems, but I am not going to leave the country to prove that statement. If the worst comes to the worst, and it will as it does every summer, the air blower goes on again.