Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it – attributed to Mark Twain
It’s hot. It’s August and I live in Texas – it’s supposed to be hot. This Summer, though, is different. Dallas – Fort Worth has had 32 straight days of 100 degrees or more. The average is only 16 per year, and the all-time records of 42 straight 100 degree days and 69 total are looking reachable. Other regions are also seeing extreme – and deadly – heat.
Everybody’s talking about the weather. But Mark Twain (or whoever originated that quote) was wrong – we are doing something about it. We’re adapting.
Sometimes we adapt by changing our environment. The most obvious adaptation is air conditioning. It is no coincidence that the South and Southwest were sparsely populated until air conditioning became commonplace. Air conditioning allows us to live through near-record heat mostly unaffected – at least those of us who work indoors.
If we can’t adapt our environment, we adapt our behaviors. People lived in Texas – and in places much hotter and drier – for centuries before air conditioning, and they still do. They stay out of the Sun, especially in the heat of the day. They wear light, loose clothes. They carry water, and they learn where to find more.
The Ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde (in southwestern Colorado) built their houses in the cliffs, where they are shaded for most of the day. They collected water and and grew a few dry-weather crops. They lived there for 700 years, but when their environment became too unfriendly (it is speculated that the climate changed from “dry” to “too dry”) they adapted again – they moved.
This is not what Nature teaches.
Nature teaches constant change. Sometimes the change is sudden, as with an earthquake. Sometimes the change is cyclical, as with the seasons. And sometimes the change happens so gradually and so slowly we struggle to recognize it, as with evolution.
Nature brings change. We adapt to it: sometimes easily, sometimes with great effort, and sometimes with great sorrow. Through our adaptations we learn and grow, and the next time we encounter a heat wave or a hurricane or a job loss or a change in the political climate we are better able to respond and to adapt again. And again. And again.
Blessed be Nature. Blessed be change.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin