Why I Am In Favor of Climate Change by mattsteinglass
May 7, 2007, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Environment, Vietnam

A couple of years ago, after my first two summers in Hanoi, I joked with a friend that I had finally come around on the question of man-made climate change: I’m for it. Because, it being literally impossible for the climate in Hanoi to get any worse, any change would have to be for the better. Hanoi in summer isn’t really any worse than a bad day in August in Washington, DC, if that bad day were to last unbroken from mid-April through September. The leaves hang limply on the trees, the people slouch limply in their tiny plastic chairs, and ever 20 minutes or so a tiny puff of a breeze — just an absentminded stirring in the soupy air — dusts your face with a momentary “foof”. And then it’s back to the soup. In winter, the temperature drops to a chill, wet 50 degrees, fog blankets the lake and blocks the sun, and people huddle in their unheated, uninsulated, unsealed houses, drinking tea. The day runs by in a cycle of subtly differentiated greys; nothing casts a shadow. Hanoi is the greyest city I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived in Amsterdam.

Or was. This summer, like last summer, has been completely different. I say “summer”, because normally by May 7 it would be summer in Hanoi; but here it is, 75 degrees outside. We’ve had gorgeous, clear blue skies, week after week, punctuated by fresh tropical rain. The city feels clean. The far side of the lake twinkles in the morning sun. It’s freaking insane. I’m no longer joking about this: I think climate change is fixing Hanoi’s weather. But this is probably like that part at the beginning of “The Fly” where Jeff Goldblum thinks his transporter machine has improved and suped up his body, before he discovers it’s actually turned him into a hideous half-insect mutant.

3 Comments so far
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Love your post. I remember some friends from Minneapolis telling me back in the 80s, “Man, we played football outside on Thanksgiving this year, it was great.” I wish you good weather as long as it lasts.

I speculate out here on the Plains that the most significant effect of climate change (which only sounds like a weasel word–the climate IS changing) will be wind, in the form of tornado after tornado and wind storms that will make cross-country truck transportation a very risky business. Everything between St. Louis and Denver one big wind tunnel. They’ll have to countersink the grain silos too.

SUCH interesting times.

Comment by J Marra

Yes, I read about the mile-wide tornado the folks in Kansas had the other day. Yikes. I didn’t include here the most significant and obvious downside of climate change for Vietnam, which is that the entire bottom hook of the country, the Mekong Delta, will be underwater once sea levels rise 1 meter, as is expected by early next century. Something like ten million people live in that part of the country. So, obviously, I’m not actually in favor of climate change.

Comment by mattsteinglass

An Inconvienient Truth for the rest of the world, but for us in Hanoi, quite the fortunate quinky dink. Rather, let us hope with the tightest of crossed fingers. My friend who lived here two summers ago would take ice-cold baths three times a day – San Diegans – always thinking they’re royalty.

Comment by Thông

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