The Year Without a Winter: Two Centuries Later, a Climate Switcheroo

So some years back I read a good book titled The Year Without a Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History (2013), by William and Nicholas Klingaman (that name makes you wonder: or are they really Klingons?), which is basically about the climate chaos wrought (wrought? I never get to use that word anymore) by the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815. It’s a good climate-change read, making a convincing argument for how this weather event/anomaly—which led to famine and cloudy/cold weather in the northern hemisphere (1816 also being known as “18-Hundred-And-Froze-to-Death”)—affected politics and culture as well, particularly (or most obviously) with the development of the Gothic literary genre via Percy Bysshe Shelly, Mary Wollstonecraft, Dr. Polidari, and Lord Byron giving monster-birth (“It’s alive!”) to Frankenstein and a popular vampire tale.
So how tidy it is that two centuries later we’re witnessing The Year Without a Winter. I’m currently living in Pennsylvania (and have been here, off and on, when I’m not in Colorado, for twenty-one years) and have never experienced such a warm winter. (I know it’s an El Nino year, right. But still.) People were jogging in their T-shirts and shorts last weekend. (A rather unlikely scream here: “It’s so horrible I can’t take it!”) Actually, it is rather nice. But pretty poison. I’ve read and have written about climate change for many years now (drought figures prominently in my last novel, The Bird Saviors, set in the American Southwest), and all our national efforts have amounted to squat, though I give President Obama credit for at least trying. God forbid one of the Republican know-nothings get elected. I cringe when I hear that Marco Rubio is somehow “better” than all the others: He’s made a point recently to thump the bible as hard as he can, and to warn that climate change mitigation will ruin the economy (which is nonsense, really), but even if it does hard the economy, what’s worse? Some economic adjustment or climate chaos?

This entry was posted in Climate Change, Politics, The West and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *