The Hammock, 1844. Gustave Courbet.

“No matter how bad things are it can only be worse in St. Louis”

I’m actually kind of fond of Saint Louie, but it’s a city that has a legendary reputation for miserable summers. I was exposed to one of those summers once – as a student in Carbondale – another 100 miles further south of St. Louis. It was a memorable summer for both the heat and the humidity. Memorable – like this summer is shaping up to be in 2012.

Personally, I don’t need a lot of arm twisting to be convinced that human beings are screwing up the climate. We’ve already done a pretty good number on the forests, the prairies, the seas, never mind how many animal species we’ve done in. But I wonder where all the Global Warming naysayers are today? I’m not itching for a debate but it’s easy enough to crow about nonsense science when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.

No doubt many of you heard about NOAA’s statement last week linking this odd weather to climate change. Of course, these are long term problems, and let’s be honest: global warming simply isn’t as tangible a concern as say, the images of the Cuyahoga River burning in 1969. Pictures like that on the evening news sure helped put water pollution on the map.

I remember writers years ago – like Bruce Sterling – warning about potential weather anomalies that were going to become routine. Prolonged hot spells causing everyone (yes, including me) to run their AC units, which only causes more carbon to be spewed out of smokestacks into the air, causing more hot weather. So we turn up the AC.

So I’m trying to change my thinking. Much like the way I’ve attempted to embrace cold winter days, I’m looking for ways to embrace the heat. For example it may be high time for Americans to investigate the siesta. As someone who works outdoors quite a lot I’m happy to lead the charge on this shady operation:

Put Americans back to work, making hammocks!

(Of course, we’ll need lot of trees to tie those hammocks to)

Put Americans back to work, planting trees, for all those hammocks, for all those siestas!

Who knows. Maybe with millions of new trees holding millions of Americans taking their siestas in their hammocks – as opposed to driving their cars – we just might cool this old city off?   

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Dave Coulter

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...