Readers will, perhaps, recall that I detest hot weather. I am not designed for it: I have a large stocky frame built on a Scottish genome, and in the ordinary course of my routine metabolic business I generate far more heat of my own than I can easily discard. In the winter, when everyone is shivering, I am generally comfy in a sweater and light jacket, and in a typical New York summer (see, for example, here, here, and here), I suffer the torments of the damned, and fear for my very survival. I hang on grimly, and remind myself that eventually autumn will come, but July and August here in Gotham are very, very difficult to bear, and indeed, despite my robust constitution, last July’s hellish swelter landed me in the hospital.

But this year has been different: whichever of Satan’s lieutenants is usually in charge of our summer weather seems — can it be true? — to have abandoned his post. Throughout May and June, when the burner is usually lit and the kettle begins to boil, it was cool and rainy. And July, so far, has been downright splendid, with low humidity, daytime temperatures only in the seveties and low eighties, and cool breezy nights. I regard the invention of the air conditioner as a milestone of human achivement second only, perhaps, to the taming of fire, or the creation of language, but here it is July 13th, and I have yet to switch mine on. I am inexpressibly grateful.

(I probably should have kept mum about this. If the Prince of Darkness, who is, I suspect, an occasional reader, should happen to see this post, the game’ll be up. Just you watch.)


  1. JK says

    Don’t fret Malcolm, Satan’s minion Lt. Temperature has leased a home in Arkansas. I think Capt. Humidity rented across the street.

    Apparently it was a long-term lease.

    Posted July 14, 2009 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  2. Mike Z says


    Why would you risk mentioning this???

    – M

    Posted July 14, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  3. Occasional? I read every day!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted July 14, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says


    Well, Jeffery, now that everything’s out in the open, can we make some sort of a deal? I’d really like a nice cool summer.

    Posted July 14, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Permalink
  5. eugenejen says

    Mal, the disappearance of the sunspot is the clue….

    Posted July 15, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm . . . your immortal soul for a cool summer? You drive a hard bargain, but I once had to deal with a couple who demanded an apple, so I’m cool — and you will be, too, but only for one summer. After that, things might heat up a bit. Make sure that you read the fine print in our contract. I wouldn’t want you to suffer any surprises.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted July 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Well, that seems a bit steep, Jeffery. But ask me again later in the summer…

    Posted July 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Do you think so, Eugene? Is solar output significantly down? I wonder… are average temperatures lower this summer everywhere, or just around here?

    Posted July 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Permalink
  9. eugenejen says

    I think that’s the reason. I wonder any data of the solar output is available. Besides green house effect, the temperature of atmosphere is influenced by output by Sun. And you can see, there is no sun spot recently. And I think from, we know the output of sun is currently smaller than before, I just don’t know how much.

    I remember Freeman Dyson suspect the global warming is partly caused by sunspot but my memory maybe wrong because I have no citation at hand at the moment.

    Posted July 16, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  10. eugenejen says

    I forget another part of your question. I did not check out temperatures around the world. My home town Taipei seems as hot as usual, (but it is a sub tropical climate there and heat is kept by the ocean), I guess another way to look at it is to check out the number of tropical storms during the same period. If this year is lower, I guess that means the ocean is cooler on surface. (I know the temperature on surface of ocean is very complex, the ocean flow pattern changes may cause difference, this is just a wild guess to guess how an heat engine works due to my partial education as physicist…)

    Posted July 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink
  11. eugenejen says


    It seems my theory is not correct. The latest data for ocean temperature is here.

    Posted July 21, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

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