Weather Is No Longer A Polite Topic Of Conversation

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation. It’s suddenly, or not so suddenly depending on how you look at, very controversial. Weather used to be something you could talk about with strangers, your grandparents friends, and family without too much trouble.

“It sure is a nice day” you might say, or, “It’s unseasonably cold for May.” You might complain about it being a hard winter. You might complain it’s too humid. You might just be basking in the sunny, balmy perfection of a lovely June morning. It was all an acceptable topic of conversation. Mostly because weather oddities were, well, oddities. We could pretty much count on the next season getting back to “normal” with summer being summer and winter being winter.

Winter Robin Alcohol Ink Painting by Lillian Connelly
“Winter Robin” based on a photo by Gary Jones. Alcohol inks on yupo paper, 11×14.

Now weather is not an acceptable topic of conversation. Now talking about weather is talking about politics, which can often be dangerous and divisive when speaking with strangers, your grandparents friends, or family members. My political views are probably almost at the opposite spectrum of most of my extended family. I’m a bleeding heart liberal swimming in a sea of republicans. It’s entertaining and I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. Or rolling my eyes, or with my mouth open in disbelief. Especially on Facebook.  Don’t even get me started on the insanity I see on Facebook. I just put on my horse blinders and skim past it all as much as possible. I am pretty sure my family does the same thing with me. I mean, we’re still family. We still care about each other. We just see the world in very different ways. That’s not always a bad thing. I’m open to different ideas and opinions. I like to debate. I like to learn about another point of view. Sometimes I even change my mind. Mostly though, you do what you can to get along. You stick to those polite topics of conversation whenever possible.

I try not to talk about the weather too much, even though it’s sometimes really hard to avoid talking about it. I mean, we are in a drought here in New Mexico. One that keeps getting worse with each passing year. California, Texas, and Arizona want our water which means we might have even less eventually. It makes me thirsty just thinking about it. My rain dances aren’t getting the results I had hoped for. Meanwhile, my friends back East are just putting away their winter jackets, with some trepidation I might add. There still may be a flash of freezing rain or a night that requires the heat be turned back on. There is flooding and forest fires. There is rampant fungus in Central America on coffee beans. I don’t know if that is caused by the weather changes for sure, but it seems likely. I could list all sorts of problems that seem to be developing from our weather problems, but you watch the news and read the Internet newspapers. You know what’s going on.

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation.

When I was in college studying environmental science I was running around like Al Gore talking to anyone who would listen. I was reading about the bees and the butterflies and the ocean rising and the earth warming. I was obsessed with ants.

Nobody wanted to hear about it.

I remember being out with some of my Grandmother’s friends and somehow the weather came up. I had all of these scientific facts to add to the conversation. I remember this older gentleman sort of laughed at my “child-like” ways and politely told me I was full of crap. I was young and I was taught to respect my elders so I just stopped talking about the weather. It seemed like a lost cause. It was no longer a polite topic of conversation. It was politics.

Plus, trying to explain how “global warming” meant we were going to have extreme weather, not just warmer weather was impossible to convey. I just got emails from people, buried in the snow, saying “Where is your global warming now?” I just gave up on talking about the weather. Nobody was listening anyway.

Here I am, over a decade later, and judging by the arguments I read on the Internet everyday, talking about the weather is still pretty impolite. It’s still a political issue. That doesn’t make much sense to me. The seas are rising. My friends in the East are getting buried in snow. There are hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes making headlines in the news far more often than I remember ever happening before. Our weather is a problem.

Maybe it’s time to start talking about it politely again. So we can make some decisions. So we can do what we can to make our planet more habitable. So we don’t run out of water in New Mexico and my friends back East don’t have to start building arks. Maybe we can stop making the weather a political issue where people have to take sides. Maybe we can start working together.


I know, I sound like a dreamer, but did you read that part where I said I was a bleeding heart liberal? When I look at my daughter I see the future. I want it to be a good place. So, please, talk about the weather. Collaborate. Find solutions. Americans are known for their creativity and ingenuity. Why aren’t we focused on that instead of on who is right and wrong? Why aren’t we focused on fixing the problem? Why aren’t we dreaming bigger, creating more, and offering some hope to future generations?

When did we stop caring about our children’s children?


4 thoughts on “Weather Is No Longer A Polite Topic Of Conversation”

  1. That is THE most annoying thing about people who “don’t believe” in global warming – when they’re buried in snow. I’m actually a republican for the most part, kind of Independent in my thinking, though. I believe in gay rights, I believe in taxes, and I believe in Global Warming. Because I’m a scientist at heart, and I’ve read about how the gasses affect our weather – and not just by making it hotter. We should re-brand “global warming” to something where people don’t automatically assume it just warms the planet, you know? I love the quote by Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

    1. I love that quote by Neil DeGrasse too. I used to be registered as an Independent because I straddled both sides so much, but then one day I realized my thinking was more on one side of the political spectrum than the other. I understand where you are coming from. I think we just need more people to break out of these right and left molds we seem to have and get past it all to have real discussions. Or maybe, just to get people to speak up more. I am pretty sure most of us are willing to meet halfway to get things done.

      The snow argument drives me nuts too.

  2. I have been a Democrat my entire voting life…some 35 years. I have voted outside that party twice, backing Green candidates for Texas Railroad Commission (Texas oil and gas.) As we have tried to “meet in the middle” the “middle” has shifted so far to the “right” as to be unrecognizable, a place where “beliefs” trump reality. What this has done is effectively shut down conversation about serious problems. I remember a time when a Republican president–Richard Nixon–took us to “the middle” and established the EPA.

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