Who woulda thunk that a little thing like a communications dilemma wrought by Hurricane Irma could give rise to a discourse on environmental degradation by a scribe atop his soapbox? The reason behind the enormity of Irma and her kissin’ cousin Harvey, the world’s climatologists tell us, is the warming of the oceans.
That, and an ancillary incident related to Irma, led me to ponder a major cause of the oceans’ heating-up: our profligate use of energy from pollution-belching fossil fuels.
The outage of Comcast service incentivized a horde of internet users such as myself to improvise, sending us to places like public libraries and Starbucks to access connections. This Comcast customer uses a desktop computer, resorting to his laptop in rare instances such as vacations away and, yes, long-term service interruptions. But in my condo complex, the wi-fi is out, as well. A Comcast agent said I still could access the internet at home by connecting with an Infinity “hot spot.” Just click on the internet button, then choose Infinity Wi-Fi, and I’d be good to go. Didn’t work.
A Cold Reception
So, off to the Boynton Beach City Library I went. That was Tuesday, Sept. 12. After a couple of hours, the library got set to close early, but I couldn’t have stood it much longer, anyway. I put away my laptop, walked to the desk, and asked the cordial, sweater-wearing librarian, “Is this an anomaly, or is it always this cold in here?”
No, she said, it wasn’t an anomaly, although the temperature occasionally was quite warm. But the temperature that day was par for the course, she said, adding, “One day it was 64 degrees!” Good football weather, but for sitting nearly motionless for hours in a library, not so much.
The librarian said the thermostat was regulated by the city, not library personnel.
From infrequent use, my laptop contains few Word documents. Scrolling with my stiff fingers through the brief file, I happened upon one I’d written almost three years ago while on a jazz cruise. It couldn’t have been more appropriate. Herewith:
“Outside my stateroom window, the big, heavy tub is churning the Caribbean into a frothy white that is absorbed by
My dissertation continued: “I don’t buy it. These measures are intended more to save the company’s wallet than the waves. Otherwise, why would the public areas outside the customer cabins be so danged cold I have to wear a sweater and sport coat to stay warm (while my hands, feet and nose are practically frostbitten)? Company officials think most cruisers will feel uncomfortable unless the air conditioning is set at a level that paralyzes one’s blood circulation. Or maybe they think folks will spend more on libations to thin the blood.
“Is excessive air conditioning limited to cruise ships? Not by a long shot – or a long knot.”
And that’s where my harangue ended. I had no idea a hurricane would strike a few years later, creating circumstances prompting a resumption of the polemic. But here I was, hunkered down in the library, once again chilled to my marrow.
Freezing in Florida
The next day, Wednesday, Sept. 13, I returned wearing long pants, socks, a flannel shirt, and a sweater. And I sat downstairs where, the librarian had advised, it was a little warmer. Uh-huh. This time, I was so cold that my fingers were brittle, and I constantly made mistakes on the laptop keyboard. The guy sitting across the table, lean like me, had his thick sweater pulled up to his nose. Even a burly guy at the next table wore a jacket. Minutes after I emerged from the library, my nose and hands were still cold to the touch.
Few would feel sacrificed, and many would be joyed, by warmer surroundings in libraries and many other public buildings, such as restaurants, banks and dance studios. “Wear a sweater,” the proprietors counter complaints with. “I got a better idea,” I say: “Turn up the damned thermostat and watch your electric bill drop.”
Thursday, I hung out at Starbucks. Again, the air was chilly, though the hot coffee warmed me some. But at least it wasn’t Panera Bread, where it’s so cold I won’t stay five minutes.
All of this exemplifies the mindlessness of man. Is no one bothered by the sea levels rising to where Miami Beach eventually will disappear? By the work of engineers planning ways to deal with expected flooding of New York’s subways? By a chunk the size of Delaware splitting off of a melting Arctic glacier? By flooding and roasting heat waves across the globe? Oh, and this one: by higher prices for goods and services caused by elevated utility bills, and higher taxes produced by government waste?
Do folks not think about what they are bequeathing to their children and grandchildren, a planet uninhabitable in many places, with weather extremes producing uncomfortable living conditions at best, and impossible ones at worst?
Our government in action — er, inaction
Wouldn’t you think that a local government, such as Boynton Beach, would be attuned to the need for protecting the environment?
Hmmm. I guess not – not when the federal government is heedless of the urgency for environmental action. Not when the president and the man he picked to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, pooh-pooh science and man-caused climate disruptions.
What’s called for is legislation requiring that the air conditioning in all public buildings except hospitals be set at no lower than 78 degrees. I guess that won’t happen – not when the Republican Congress is riddled with disbelievers in man-made climate change.
What have half the voters in America been smoking?