Hot and (Un)bothered

By Samit Basu Updated: Jun 25, 2024 18:00:09 IST
Hot and (Un)bothered Shutterstock

Not that anyone in India needs to be reminded, but summer is here, and the collective energy dissipated by people complaining about the heat is making climate change even worse.

I was recently at a German cultural centre for a literary event, and the person who ran the centre was puzzled by how quickly I was able to deduce that she had arrived relatively recently in Delhi. It was easy enough to spot—she was lamenting that the rising temperatures had made them move their events indoors, and she wanted to spend as much time outside as possible.

Outside! In the fresh air, soaking in the sun and its vitamin-D-activating bounty! Clearly new to the city. Madam, this is not Berlin, with its parks and waterworks and human-friendly atmosphere. Please orient yourself to your new surroundings by watching the documentary Mad Max: Fury Road.

It will take a few weeks—a few months, if she is exceptionally stubborn—until Delhi teaches her to seek shade, darkness and cool air like the rest of us lizards. She will only become a proper Delhi-ite when she emerges outdoors, beaming, into the beautiful winter sun, and then runs back indoors immediately because of the pollution.

Climate change is one of the many, many global crises that everyone seems to be aware about but no one can actually help resolve. The few people with the power to fix things—assuming that we have not already crossed the tipping point which makes temperature-rise a permanent feature until we are all too sun-dried to care—are mostly distinguishing themselves by having annual meetings, where they all congregate at luxury destinations via private jets to achieve good vibes but little action.

Meanwhile, in the parts of the world where we hear the phrase ‘Climate Change’ and think, Well, maybe it’ll be for the better? (It will not get better), we are mostly too overwhelmed by our other various personal and social crises, or just too used to the weather being terrible, to even notice in particular.

In the worlds of books and films, though—publishers and producers have been trying, for a while, to sell ‘climate fiction’ in various forms, hoping to monetize people’s growing anxiety about this clearly overheating planet. So my fields of work are also heating up about climate change.

It’s been fun to watch—mostly because both climate anxiety, stories of survival during climate crises, and speculation about what the world will be like when everything has sunk or boiled have been a part of storytelling for generations in all media, and part of marketing new trends in the arts is about pretending that the extremely familiar is somehow a dazzling new invention.

But here’s a pro tip for those of you who want to get in on the climate-fiction trend—take your story in any form that everyone has rejected, insert a line that has your main character remembering an incident from a few years ago, and mention that it was less hot then than it was now. Boom! Climate fiction ... and remember to send me some money.

For those of you too overcome by the heat to do so much work, here’s wishing you rest, shade, cold water, and ice cream.

Have a great summer, everyone!

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