In the nineties, “watching the weather channel” was something old folks did, and we laughed at them for it. High in ranking alongside jokes about airline food, your grouchy grandpa watching the weather channel was a popular comedy cliché. Fast forward a few decades, airplane food has gone extinct and young people are more concerned with the weather than the old guys. And for good reason. When the Trump-era climate change deniers are dead, their mess will live on.
It’s tempting to ignore and hard to bring up at the skatepark; nobody wants to be a Debbie Downer. But if scientists are correct, your cold shoulder does nothing to shield you from the effects of global warming. Although money might give you a brief upper hand, ultimately neither will your bank balance. Nature has the power to shred all currencies. A greater equalizer than bad airline food.
SHRIMPS ON THE BARBIE
When the homie Poppy Starr jumped into the ocean recently in her hometown of Newcastle, 100 miles north of Sydney in the burning State of New South Wales, she emerged covered in ash. “Felt like an apocalypse, end of the world type stuff.” Like the majority of cities in Australia, Newcastle sits on the coastline & benefits from offshore winds decreasing the accumulation of smoke
If you live in BC or in the Pacific Northwest, you may have experienced life in wildfire smoke. There is a system called the Air Quality Index, or AQI for measuring air pollution (see right.) As a healthy, young person you might notice symptoms similar to allergies when the AQI reaches the “unhealthy” zone. Your eyes become sensitive & you start feeling congested and gross. When the AQI reaches the 200-300 range your local outdoor skatepark will empty out because rolling around for more than 5 minutes is unbearable. Indoor skateparks might provide some temporary relief, but in the “hazardous” range, the smoke does a slow creep through window frames and barges in doors. Everywhere you look, inside and out, has a hazy facade, your head is pounding & you feel like absolute shit. It is truly debilitating and likely to be the first way climate change directly affects many of our lives.
You’ll see the word “unprecedented” repeated in news articles. Unprecedented heat and drought added up to the hottest year on record in Australia. Unprecedented numbers animals have died, maybe ummm… a billion. What? You read that right. And the fire season isn’t even close to being over. The effect this devastation will have on the country’s unique ecosystem is also… UNPRECEDENTED! Sadly, one thing so far that is precedented is the Australian Government’s reaction to this travesty. The US set that precedent! Australia’s conservative government has fallen in step with the denial, obstruction and gaslighting state-siders have grown accustomed to. Coal is #1 in Australia. The country gets the majority of it’s energy from it, and as the worlds largest exporter, collects $42 billion USD a year from the lumpy black stuff. The connection from coal to carbon to climate change is common knowledge in kindergarten classrooms. And while Australia is burning the construction of the Adani coal mine is underway, “the most insane energy project on the planet.”
NUDES FOR THE BUSHFIRE!
Feeling depressed and deflated watching Australia burn? If you have money, you could donate some. You could skate down to your local demonstration, or organize your own. Carefully selecting where you spend your money & adopting a vegetarian diet can help. There’s always the voting booth. But in the moment, there’s little you can do to counteract feelings of helplessness & panic while reading about suffering Koalas and ‘pyrocumulonimbus’ thunderstorms. And now, your mental health is more important than ever. Do something that makes you feel better, have a beer or go skate. Dedicate your life to improving an industry, like Lindsay Rose has at SUAY Sew Shop. Or get creative like Kaylen Ward, who has been exchanging nude photos for donations to the bushfires (despite being mercilessly slut shamed.) You could even gain some followers. Double your pleasure, double the fun!
WARNING! BASTARDIZED SCIENCE: Picture this; “God” has carefully arranged a long line of dominos and schoolyard bully, Lucifer, saunters over and knocks down the first, starting a great celestial domino effect. First is the industrial revolution, which topples into the second, atmospheric carbon. Carbon knocks into high temps, which topples polar ice. Next, the ocean levels begin to rise, and WELCOME to Florida!
Since 1950, ocean levels in Forida have risen 8 inches- 6 in the last 30 years. They predict another 6 inches in 15 years, as climate change accelerates. Ocean levels in Florida are carefully documented by NOAA satellites, buoys and tidal gauges which makes sense considering how much cash is on the line. Miami, home to many of the rich and famous, is particularly vulnerable because the south tip of Florida is built on a coral reef.
Perhaps the most bizarre state in a country that makes little sense, Florida is home to retirees, alligators, bath salts, Disney World and lots of skaters. The point is, encroaching ocean water is likely to be another way climate change will affect us as we roll into the future.
There is some good news! YOU are in luck because skateboarders are like the cockroaches of recreation. We thrive on disaster. When the boom and bust of the farming industry came and went from Fresno, the hot inland town became a popular pool skating destination. Foreclosures during the 2008 recession made it even better. No other activity can repurpose like skateboarding. Joni Mitchell’s warning of “paving paradise and putting up a parking lot” doesn’t present the threat to us that it does to most. I mean, we’re not going to trail-blaze the paving of paradise, but if there’s nothing left but a parking lot, at least you could skate it.