A Note on Climate

It’s been three birthdays since my last in Beirut. I’ve been away before—to and fro, on and off—but never for this long of a stretch. This dislocation was heightened this week as rising heat mimicked foreign climates and a dearth of AC units recalled a life of daily power cuts back home. What’s new over there, since I left, is the bottom seemingly falling out from under our national resilience, with crisis after crisis accumulating on the backs of my friends and family. The latest indignity is the now regular scene of lines of cars waiting to fill up on gas—seen here in the second slide, as captured by a friend who joked about hooking him up with some at a station that shared my family’s name.

What’s even more discombobulating is that this friend and I have been advocating for public transport for years now—I can’t believe how long it’s been—and it’s going to be many more years to come, since even this fuel crisis has not seemed to shift middle-class mentalities away from carbon-hungry lifestyles. No, we are told, taking the bus would be to let our leaders get away with it—to “adapt” is to betray ourselves, they say, and it does not escape my attention that “adaptation” and “air conditioning” share a root in Arabic.

This isn’t a judgment statement; taking the bus in Beirut is a real battle, a kind of activism in itself. But I do wonder when the veils of self-deception will finally fall—when the line between betrayal and living in actual truth will turn crystalline.

We are all pulled in so many directions, shaped by so many contradictory commitments; and yet, here we are, sharing one planet. To adapt is to acclimatize to this one world, one trip around the sun at a time.


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