This summer constitutes the shortest break ever for most of the schools in Western North Carolina (at least for students in the public school systems).
At the same time, it’s been the longest summer in terms of heat — the hottest stretch of months ever recorded here (and on Earth. And no, Senator Inhofe, we are not in a cooling trend. Ahhh, the absurdity of the willfully ignorant).
Fewer lazy days of summer in 2010 are a direct result of an unusually high number of snow days. During the winter of ‘09-‘10, WNC had the most snow since 1969, thus equaling fewer days of school, which meant that extra days were added to the end of the year. Then, our area superintendents petitioned the powers-that-be in Raleigh for a waiver so our schools can open before the law-mandated date of August 20. Thus, now days are being tacked onto the beginning of the school year as well.
Yes, we’re experiencing some wonky weather changes, and we’re going to have to learn to deal with it. Here’s one thing that’s going on, according to Enviro-spouse, who works in the climate field (though if you ask our kids what he does for a living, they’ll say he talks on the phone).
The earth is warming, mostly because of the greenhouse gases we’ve thrown up into our atmosphere. This increasing temperature causes our oceans to release lots of extra moisture into our atmosphere. Also, warmer air holds more water droplets (yup, I’d say it’s been humid as a steam room in Belize this summer). More moisture in the air equals more snow and ice storms when the weather turns cold.
Get used to this cycle, y’all. Us humans are going to have to adapt to it — cause it’s not likely to change in our lifetimes — only to worsen. If the entire world stopped using fossil fuels tomorrow, the earth would continue to warm for decades, says E-spouse.
So, I’m assuming that by the time my youngest hits high school in six years, we’ll have so many snow days that the superintendents will have to petition for year-round school (already happening for more that 2 million U.S. students, although the rationale isn’t yet climate variability). And that will cost a lot of money given the cooling needs for these large buildings during our increasingly heat-intensive summers — thus contributing to the problem. Also, year-round schooling doesn’t, at this point, mean more days of school. Instead the 180 days are spread throughout the year and broken up by shorter breaks than the 19th century agrarian-influenced summer vacation (How many kids still spend their summers working in the fields? Probably more around here than a lot of places, but still not many).
In truth, I’m ready for my kids to go back to school — it makes my life easier in a lot of ways. But I don’t want the reason for shorter summers to be climate variability. Something’s got to change, dammit.
I’m hoping to enjoy these last few days of summer before my youngest goes back to Asheville City Schools on Aug. 17. His sister will be attending an independent school this year, and that school actually starts in September — the month most of us equate with a return to the classroom. My boy’s irritated about the disparity in return dates, but I told him he’s lucky we don’t live in Madison County. Those kids returned to school on August 5.
So, happy back-to-school, y’all. Sorry summer’s been so short and so damn hot.