A column about global warming

I understand that global warming is a big environmental problem. I am not one of the few remaining oil industry-aligned skeptics who still insist nothing’s been proven. Sure, I haven’t seen An Inconvenient Truth yet – recent trips to the multiplex having been designed more around a desire to escape reality than receive a harsh jolt of it. But I really, really intended to, and that’s got to count for something, right?

I don’t want the polar ice caps to melt, or the snows of Kilimanjaro to disappear. In fact, I’ll have you know that I’m a fully paid-up member of Greenpeace. Or at least, I was once, but I’ve changed address and credit card details several times since then. Details, details – the point is that I am nevertheless committed to the environment. And, for the record, I think pollution is bad. I just think that warm weather’s not such a bad thing, and that it would be better if Sydney had a little more of it.

So if we can manage things so that Sydney gets a bit warmer in winter, in particular, but that the drought isn’t worse and no low-lying Pacific island nations are wiped out, I for one would be delighted. Because I’ve come to realise something at about this time every year, as the weather lures us into our t-shirts with the occasional hot day only to give us frostbite after the sun sets. I suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

SAD (oh, and it is) is most commonly experienced by people who live near the Arctic Circle, in countries like Iceland. They get depressed because of the weather, and presumably also because they live bang smack in the middle of nowhere. Most people say the disease is called by a lack of sunlight, and treat it with a lightbox, although I think the disease is more likely caused, in Iceland at least, by over-exposure to Björk.

Obviously the weather in Sydney, recently voted by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler as their preferred tourist destination, doesn’t cause depression. My condition is the reverse condition: warm weather makes me inexplicably happy. After going through the colder months in a fog of grumpy cynicism, I spend November through to March in a bizarrely blissful daze. My highly-developed frowning muscles take the summer months off, and on occasion, in spite of myself, I can even be seen smiling.

Maybe it’s the high frequency of social events, from Christmas parties to barbeques? Maybe it’s the annual influx of the expats, whose endless tales of how great their lives are in New York or London rally us to throw extra-lavish and debauched parties to pretend that we Sydneysiders have more fun than we really do for eleven months of the years. Or maybe my body just really likes being sunburnt and sweaty. But whatever causes it, it’s started already.

Over the next few months, I’ll find it almost impossible to care about things like politics or principles. Already I’m finding myself shrugging off things that I know I should be concerned about, like the recent media law changes and the sale of Telstra. I’m even indifferent about the long-overdue steps taken by our leaders towards finally recognising that Iraq has been a failure and that the Coalition of the Willing should become the Coalition of the Pulling Out Immediately Before Any More Of Our Troops Are Killed. Screw it, I tell myself. I’ll just go to the beach.

Perhaps this explains why people who live in Queensland put up with Joh for so long, or why the Thais didn’t seem to mind that whole coup thing so much?

So while everyone’s getting on the global warming bandwagon – something I’m theoretically committed to as well – I know I’ll be largely thinking to myself how much I’d like it to be summer all year round. And while I’m happy to help fight the good fight, at least through the medium of whiney opinion-writing, I’m afraid I’m going to take a raincheck until autumn. Because from now until April, I just know that the only thing I’m going to genuinely care about will be the Ashes.

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