It’s a cliche that modern man is out-of-touch with the natural world (what’s left of it). Whereas our long-ago ancestors had a deep sense of the change of seasons, migrations of animals, and so forth, we know nothing. Compared to their innate knowledge of the natural world, we are illiterates.
People the world over have been captivated by the recent news story about the survival of the four, Indigenous, young children in the Amazon rainforest for 40 days after their small plane crashed (and all the adults died). Their tale of survival prompted this comment by an expert: “Westerners would have been long dead,” and no one disputed it.
However, there is one thing that we ourselves have noted this spring, namely, that the ocean temperature along our coast is much warmer than it typically is at this time of year.
We have belonged to a local ocean-rowing club for a few years. We launch our boats (which accommodate a crew of four with a coxswain) by lifting them off a trailer and walking them into the water.
Our season starts in early May and our ankles and feet usually become numb within minutes of stepping into the water during the first few weeks before Memorial Day.
But this season, we noticed something different, something amiss: There was no numbness in our feet. Sure, the water was cold, but not numbingly so. In fact, the water felt pleasant, especially after a long row.,
Similarly, swimming in our wetsuit (in preparation for a local triathlon in late June which we have been doing for 16 years) typically is a chilly experience at this time of year, but it has not been so this spring.
A recent report from the government agency NOAA revealed that ocean water temperatures world-wide are the warmest that EVER have been recorded. In addition, the first 10 days of June were the hottest-ever recorded on the planet for that 10-day time period (although we would never know it here!).
So for those of us who venture into the ocean in May and June, the good news is that the water has been far more pleasant than usual.
But the bad news is that our planet, both on land and sea, is warming faster and faster — and we fear the implications for our environment will only be more and more furious.
We can’t escape feeling that we’re like the proverbial frog in the soon-to-be boiling pot of water. But unlike the frog, which does have the ability to jump out, we have nowhere to go.