Words by Evan Harms
There is truly nothing less interesting to discuss than the weather. This is a fact of social existence. When prompted to start an unwanted conversation, the weather is tossed about as the currency of disinterest. It’s painstakingly pointless to discuss something so obvious and banal.
Naturally, this week’s installment will be about the weather.
As I write this Sunday night, I’ve experienced 70-degree warmth and a pseudo-blizzard within days of each other earlier this week.
The available evidence points toward drastic climate change; that’s clear. What isn’t so clear is what impact this has on our Midwestern identity. Generally, we’re known (and sometimes take pride in) our hellish winters, lasting from early fall to late spring. We burrow up in our houses on frozen plains or beside icy lakes, and go on with our lives as they are engulfed by gray skies and various consistencies of frozen slush.
I spent the majority of days this past week in short sleeves and sweating as I walked around town and campus — something extremely troubling for this time of year — and I loved every second of it.
Climate change, again, is very real and very damning for posterity. But I’m not lying if I say that the sun and warm weather didn’t drastically improve my mood. I got to thinking that this is how people on the West Coast must feel, constantly sweating and generally being able to function.
This central element of Midwestern identity is being played with, and as we see politicians fail to grasp and act comprehensively on climate change, this means that the positively arctic winters my dad remembers growing up in Duluth, Minnesota will become scarcer and scarcer.
Maybe it’s not all a bad thing — the warmth might help adjust the regional paradigm to a more optimistic approach. I suppose that could help the economy in some abstract way that I truly don’t understand, but the cost is far greater than the potential award.
We, as Midwesterners, rely so heavily on this tough, battered stereotype that we might lose our footing as we lose some of the toughest weather. While weather might be astonishingly banal conversation fodder, it is inexorably linked to our identity.