cold longing

Today, in the weirdly formalised and displaced seasonal calendar we use, is the first day of Autumn. In fact there has been a slight chill in the morning air for about a week now, a coolness that seems to have its own scent, as well as bearing the other scents - frangi pani, or the sweet rottenness of berries fallen off the palms, or the lemony small of gum leaves if it's rained in the night. But this chill doesn't last, even on cloudy or windy days, usually by mid-morning, which is what it is now, the humid heat will be gathering. This January was the hottest on record in Sydney. It was also quite wet, like Januaries used to be in the 1980s. The figures aren't in yet for February, but this has been a hot and humid month too. I can't tell if it's getting hotter or if my tolerance of heat is decreasing but the result is the same: I long for cooler weather, even cold weather. It may be so all over the globe. A recent Granta included short contributions in the back from, I think, nine writers in different parts of the world. Margaret Atwood wrote about the melting Arctic, Tom Keneally about blazing Australia, there were contributions from Central America, India, Sri Lanka (an American caught in the tsunami), Holland, Spain ... all of them felt the world was getting hotter, the seasons changing, but by the same token few of them were prepared to abandon doubt as a kind of hedge against heat inflation. Because the truth is, even as we know, we don't know. Especially, we don't know how bad it's going to get. Today's paper says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's next report to the UN will stress that no reliable upper limit can be put upon how quickly the world will warm; the same article suggests that the rise in temperature may be as much as 11 (!) degrees, not the 1.5-4.5 degrees previously predicted. I do not expect to be alone in my cold longing.

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