"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." -Mark Twain
The best book I ever read about global warming was called "The Perfect Storm." Odd how a former tree trimmer, Sebastian Junger, could explain the simple mechanics of super storms and make it readable and understandable. All while recounting the doomed lives of commercial fishermen trapped by a super storm, the so-called "Storm of The Century."
So-called because that super storm was followed by another one almost exactly like it, in the exact same place, a year or so later.
Almost every fisherman I know has read The Perfect Storm. Besides being a rollicking adventure story and a cautionary tale, The Perfect Storm is a weather-related book. Junger takes the time to explain how hurricanes form, how warm water expands, how giant waves are measured.
Down here in Florida, at the intersection of those fall hurricanes forming in Africa, we get to witness global warming up-close-and-personal. While many folks believe global warming is a hard fact, few believe anybody can do anything about it, judging from the number of bicyclists on the road. On any given day in south Florida, SUVs outnumber bicycle commuters by about 10,000 to ONE.
Which brings me to professor Gore. Maybe you've seen "An Inconvenient Truth." While the movie claims to be a documentary about global warming, the inconvenient truth about the film is that it is a home movie about Al Gore. Yup, we see saintly Al trying to save the planet from greenhouse gases and melting icebergs by driving his SUV and flying jumbo jets around the globe, lecturing to a group of people who probably drove to those global warming conferences in their gas guzzling SUVs. Which begs the question: Wouldn't it have been more effective for Al to bicycle around the world if he believed so strongly in the harmfulness of greenhouse gases?
I like Al Gore, although he seems like a pompous stuff shirt. After all, had he won the election and gotten sworn into office, he would probably have been assassinated in early 2001 and replaced by shifty Joe Lieberman. In my humble, conspiracy-addled opinion.
But I digress.
Before those ice shelves in the Antarctic began collapsing into the ocean (featured in Al Gore's home movie), long before the heated talk of global warming, scientists talked about the possibility of another ice age about 25-50 years ago. You can look it up. Read some back issues of science magazines from that epoch.
Now I confess, I'm a big believer in global warming. I'm almost--but not quite--convinced industrial pollutants may precipitate the greenhouse effect, trapping heat and melting ice, which compounds the problem. How do I know global warming is a factoid? Because the Alaska salmon around Kodiak Island have been coming back earlier and earlier every spring. And because the average summer temperature in Alaska has risen by double digits during the 1990's. Those 80 degree days on Kodiak Island certainly make swimming in alpine lakes more enjoyable.
Now global warming skeptics (debunkers?) deny any change exists. They point to massive snow storms in the winter. They point to massive ice storms as evidence. As Junger explained in The Perfect Strom, one factoid of global warming, one indicator, are super storms throughout the year, not simply summer hurricanes but late winter storms too. More water in the atmosphere causes super snow storms and category 5 hurricanes.
The good thing about global warming, what I call the silver lining, is that unproductive swampland, like Washington DC, will be inundated and submerged for thousands of years. Another good thing: all those poor folks in Washington DC (and illegal aliens) can get work to remove all those "national monuments" and relocate them--and the capitol---to higher ground. Another good thing about global warming---when it arrives full force: No more Miami. Which means fewer Cubans floating over to America on rubber rafts. Now those Cubans and Haitians will have to stay and try to fight for their own country, rather than force other Americans to do it for them. Plus lots of Israel would be underwater. Less Holy Land for the three religions to fight over.
See: there ARE silver linings to global warming. Sure, I'm saddened to say that the world will lose the South Sea Islands. But the trade off is the loss of New York City, Washington DC, Malibu, Houston and ALL of south Florida. I mean, most of the major crime in America (and the world) is planned in those exact places.
Another good thing, from a misanthropic point of view (I'm an optimistic misanthrope), is that LONG before the seawater rises, most of humanity could be poisoned by a massive methane release. According to scientific experts (those worry warts and extremists), much of the trapped methane and carbon dioxide in Alaskan and Siberian permafrost, and trapped at the bottom of the sea, could be released by the rise of a few degrees. Call me a fatalist but would a human die off---rich and poor alike--be such a bad thing? I mean, think of all the great Hollywood movies that can be made before then. And methane, free-floating over the world, would be as democratic as the plague, as the Black Death was in Europe.
Check out the fear-factoring about methane here, Dead on Arrival (Global Warming). These dire forecasts, as you can see by the dateline, appeared over a decade ago. Scary, aren't they? But then so is depleted uranium and the grand theft of our republic by the Neocons. A methane release, as predicted by these nightmare scenarios, would be damn scary--almost scarier than a pack of Neocons with a blank checkbook and a couple of nuclear-armed aircraft carriers. Well, maybe not as scary as those nutty Neocons.
Anybody happen to see the movie, "Waterworld?" An amazingly BAD movie starring Kevin Costner. Painfully bad, laughably bad, embarrassingly bad. The basic contention of the movie is that all the ice in the world melts due to global warming--except for the ice cubes in your refrigerator--and the rising seawater inundates the land. Much like the biblical flood. And Kevin Costner is sort of a cross between Noah and Aquaman. To get potting soil---and I'm not making this up--he dives down to the seafloor and gets a handful of earth. So he can grow things on his giant catamaran.
Unfortunately, all the melting ice in the world (glaciers and polar ice) would raise the level of the oceans about 300 feet. Probably less. The rise would be slow, almost imperceptible. One day you would go to the beach and a few years later the ocean would be lapping at the curbs in the parking lot. By the time your kids became grandparents, in the year 2050, the six hundred trillion-dollar levee system (the US dollar will be worth a lot less then) guarding New York City will be half built. Before it is abandoned altogether around 2101.
Providing, of course, global warming is as dire as some scientists and former jet-setting presidential candidates predict.
Whether you blame sun spots or SUVs or asteroids or aerosol cans or gassy cows or coal-burning factories in China for global warming, or a combination of all of them, the worldwide rise in temperature appears to be a hard fact (not a cold hard fact however). Is global warming reversible or irreversible? Maybe, maybe not. An optimistic misanthrope---like myself---would call that a win-win scenario.
Longtime bicyclist, Alaska commercial fisherman and urban
naturalist, Douglas Herman plans another bike trip across America but NOT
to awaken anyone about the dangers of global warmer but simply for fun.
In 1986 I circled North America alone on my trusty Schwinn, all 10,000 miles.