World Weather

For the next year, the LRB is collaborating with the World Weather Network, a constellation of weather stations set up by 28 arts organisations in oceans, deserts, mountains, farmland, rainforests, lighthouses and cities around the world. Artists and writers will share observations, stories, reflections and images responding to their local weather and the effects of the climate emergency. A new report from an LRB contributor about one of the WWN locations will be published every other Friday on the LRB blog, alongside artwork generated by the network. Read all the dispatches we’ve published so far here.

The Weather in Istanbul

Izzy Finkel, 1 July 2022

I have watched tornados whip at the waters of the Golden Horn like a hose (which is what, in Turkish, they are called). Last summer, gloopy marine mucilage or sea snot bloomed across the Sea of Marmara, around which a third of Turkey’s economic activity and as many of its people are based. Like an oil spill, it suffocated marine life and hemmed Istanbulites in at the shoreline where normally they would go to look out.

The Lightning in Johannesburg

Rosa Lyster, 15 July 2022

I grew up being told that Johannesburg was ‘the lightning capital of the world’. We believed that people came from all over the world to study it, sitting on the terrace of the hotel that overlooks the Johannesburg Zoo, close enough to see the elephants and hear the lions, and watching as the white bolts tore up the sky during the afternoon storms in summer.

The Heat Wave in Northern India

Skye Arundhati Thomas, 29 July 2022

In May 2022 temperatures in Northern India hit 49°C. The Indian Meteorological Department declared it a ‘heat wave’ and in a heat wave, public infrastructure begins to fail: pavements buckle, railway tracks warp, and electrical grids are strained by increased use of air conditioning. Fires start in dry fields. Industrial plants require more water for their cooling systems, straining already reduced supplies. Crops are ravaged. A heat wave is also a national health emergency. At a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C – that is, the equivalent of 35°C and 100 per cent humidity – the human body can no longer cool itself by sweating. You overheat and die within hours. Throughout May, regions across India saw consistent wet-bulb temperatures between 25 and 33°C.

The Sandstorms in Beijing

Mimi Jiang, 11 August 2022

As someone from South China who is accustomed to humidity, the first time I went to Beijing I was struck by its dryness, especially in winter. My proximal nail folds cracked, no matter how much hand cream I put on. For Beijing citizens, sandstorms and smog are the twin horrors. One year the sandstorm was so thick it painted the sky orange. Even if you sealed all the windows, the next day your tables and floors would be covered by sand. The spring wind blows it in from the Gobi Desert. The smog, by contrast, has many culprits: fossil fuels, coal, heavy industry, too many cars. The tiny particles hang in the air waiting to be breathed in and no one can escape from it. Even the supreme leader has to breathe the same polluted air as the rest of us. People in Beijing hate the wind for bringing the sand but love it for blowing the smog away.

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