From GENE LOGSDON
Last summer I started to fall for the old Doomsday Disaster Doldrums again. It didn’t rain from the middle of May to September. Crops didn’t grow and pasture dried up. I was once more painfully reminded of how close we live to the brink of disaster at all times. The food cliff, if not the fiscal cliff, lurks just one misstep away, or so it seems. Of course the rains did come in September and more in October and now going into December, the pastures are lush and I don’t think I will have to feed hay until January. The latest weather roundup says rainfall in Ohio for the year is about normal. Ho hum.
I never learn. I got a good case of the DDDs in 1988 when it did not rain one drop here from April 11 until July 17. And I can remember my parents and grandparents in the 1930s despairing when it seemed that every other year the weather was taking us to the end of the world. And they didn’t have global warming to blame.
But it was back in the 1880s when the worst (so far) weather came our way. Our Sandusky River, here in northern Ohio, got a crust of ice on it in July, so the old papers say. A huge volcano had erupted in Indonesia in 1883 (Krakotoa) and it sent enough ash and debris into the atmosphere to shade the sun for several years even as far away as Ohio. But not many people here knew that and probably would not have believed it anyway. From every pulpit came the old DDD refrain: the end is nigh.
Can you imagine what would happen in today’s state of chronic paranoia if rivers started to freeze over in July? The great debate would be about a new ice age coming and we would be told that we must burn more coal, oil, and gas to encourage global warming.
There actually was a spurt of worry over global cooling back in the late 1980s. Can’t remember the exact year but I wrote an article in Organic Gardening magazine making fun of it. Then of course in 2000 all was going to be lost again, only computers, not the weather, was the supposed culprit. Now, another replay. All will end next week on Dec. 21. Says so according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, whatever that is.
This latest example of how nutty humans are is a little more sophisticated. The world is not going to end this time, I am told, but only that part of human society that has been guilty of environmental destruction. Those few who have not taken part in the wanton money greed and the rampant disregard of natural life, who have stayed out on the ramparts trying to find a way to live that will sustain the earth indefinitely, will be spared. Given the state of the earth right now, it is tempting to believe that kind of doomsday— especially if I am one of those chosen to survive.
It is easy enough to make fun of perpetrators of doomsday but is not the whole debate over climate change possibly another example, although disguised in supposedly more intellectual scientific language? No doubt the earth is presently getting warmer and no doubt we should quit burning so much fossil fuel. But much of the argument sounds unduly alarmist to me. All the numbers I’ve been able to corral in one pen seem to agree that in the last 20 years, the oceans have risen one-half inch. At that rate I have full faith in conniving human nature. We will find a way to adjust. Until then, as one who hates cold weather and loves green pastures, I stand among my sheep grazing in December and mutter quietly so that only the sheep can hear: if this be global warming, I’ve got worse things to worry about.