Browngirl Going Green

June 13, 2010, 4:05 pm
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It’s been frickin’ hot lately here in the Bay Area—and while the Bay definitely has its fair share of hot spots, Oakland is generally not one of them. It’s warmer here, yes, than in San Francisco most of the time, but not as hot as, say, Concord, Pittsburg, Antioch or other points further east and farther away from the ocean.

So it’s a little weird that in early June—when at times the weather can be so mild in the Bay that you wonder whether you’ve got the dates right in your calendar—we’re having 80+ degree weather. Climate change? Natural fluke? I’m no weather expert, but I have lived here all my life, and I can say that the weather has become more erratic and extreme of late, shifting from cool and rainy (just a week ago) to swelteringly hot and back again. Weather in the Bay Area always has been a bit changeable and unpredictable, but generally we don’t get more than a 10-degree swing from month to month. And while I generally do like heat, and my tomatoes in the garden are loving it, it’s been a little strange.

Of course, all this heat is coming when all of us are thinking more and more about our dependence on oil as a fuel source, with the BP spill still leaking and tons of birds and other wildlife in the Gulf dying or suffering, and whole communities being devastated by this awful disaster. And in the local Oakland Tribune, there was an article today about how the waters of the Bay are rising, threatening to displace more than a quarter of a million residents from their homes in the next 50+ years.

On a positive note, however, there is a silver cloud to the BP oil spill tragedy—that hopefully it will get more people to open their eyes to the reality that we cannot keep exploiting the earth’s natural resources without some pretty terrible repercussions. And also, that we need to realize that everything is connected, and that the extreme weather many of us are witnessing is only one symptom of a larger problem.

In the meantime, I await my new oscillating fan/ionic filter for my home, and hunker down to do some reading and gearing up for some writing workshops, and continue to try to live as green as possible during what promises to be a hot, hot summer.


Weather Vane
March 25, 2010, 3:22 pm
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The Bay Area has, for as long as I can remember, been one of those strange places weather-wise. Weather is often unpredictable and changeable from hour to hour, let alone day to day, but since I’ve been here my whole life, I felt like I had a good ‘sixth sense’ of what the weather was going to be like on any given day—there was something in the light, in the temperature of the air in the morning, in the quality and thickness of the clouds—that triggered something instinctual in me and told me whether I should bring a jacket or extra layer, or whether I should bring an umbrella, or whether I should wear something less heavy.

Of course, I could only tell what the weather was like in the immediate area I was in—our at turns hilly or flat, land-locked or water-bound terrain creates an incredible number of microclimates that can make temperature and even windy-ness in one neighborhood different than one a couple miles away—but I had enough sense to know that, for example, if I went to San Francisco it was generally going to be anywhere from 5-10 degrees cooler than it is in the East Bay, especially if I was going anywhere near the Pacific Ocean. Only the Pacific Northwest, where I spent a few weeks last May, was more changeable weather-wise in my experience (heavy rain in the morning could be followed by gorgeous sunny weather in the afternoon).

But lately, and yes I do blame climate change, I feel as if the unpredictability of Bay Area has changed. There’ve been days when the weather is actually WARMER in San Francisco than in Oakland. Or weeks (like these past few) when it rains heavily for a couple days, then gets almost Indian summer-like hot, then gets cold and rainy again. I don’t recall such extreme temperature and rainfall patterns ever happening in my lifetime here—or at least not over such a sustained period of time.

And please don’t post any silly comments about how you don’t believe man-made climate change is real, as they will be promptly deleted for their ridiculousness—as if humans can’t have any sustained impact on our environment!

This disruption of our normal weather patterns has made it hard to know how to prepare for each day—but that’s OK, it’s just one other thing to learn how to roll with. It is a bit frightening though, and makes me think of how much harder it must be right now in other places of the world—like the Philippines, South Asia, Central Africa, etc., which are often also the places where people color live—where weather and Mother Nature was already pretty extreme before climate change hit.

Frightening indeed.