By REG HENRY
Man, it is hot. How hot is it? I reckon you could cook an egg on the sidewalk assuming you had no decent appreciation for the chicken’s time and trouble.
Because it is hot, my thoughts today sluggishly consider the plight of that frog who sat in the heated tub of water and did not realize that the water temperature was gradually rising and that he was being boiled alive.
Why did he not realize this? Obviously, because he did not have a wife to tell him he had been in the tub too long and he would croak if he stayed in there any longer, so hop to it.
Many Americans, for reasons of bad luck or superior intelligence, do not have spouses, but all of us in this old tub of a world have Al Gore, who recently came out with the movie An Inconvenient Truth to give us a lecture about global warming.
I have not seen the movie for the very good reason that I hear it does not have any car chases or nudity, but people I respect said it was absorbing — and besides, they said, the movie theater was pleasantly air-conditioned.
That global warming should be a natural topic of discussion when it is hot is, of course, completely unscientific.
The weather is very variable; that is why it is the weather. If it did the same thing all the time, TV personalities would stand in front of large maps of the country with nothing to say.
Here in Pittsburgh, we have close geographic reminders of the fickleness of weather and climate — Moraine and McConnells Mill state parks, which bear the marks of glacial action from the last Ice Age, which was as recent as about 20,000 years ago. This is yesterday in geologic terms, a blink of the eternal eye, only a bit longer than a Fidel Castro speech.
Yes, climate change happens, but perhaps personal warming today is the natural and necessary prelude to thoughts of global warming and mankind’s apparent part in it this time around.
For my parboiled part, I sense there is something in the air that is beyond heat and humidity. Call it an apprehension. It may be just a post-Katrina case of the jitters, a dance involving Nervous Nelly and Chicken Little.
Of course, I am not a scientist — I just sound like one in the newspaper occasionally. But you can take your pick of celebrated scientists who think that global warming is real. You can also take your pick of the ample scientific evidence, the warmer temperatures and melting glaciers across the globe.
Inevitably, other scientists have risen up to argue the point, because people who wear white coats to work like nothing better than to roll about and hit each other over the head with beakers and Bunsen burners. Only by getting their coats dirty can they prove that they have done any real work and so be able to apply for more funding.
But what’s the layman to think in the midst of this complicated scientific debate — other than strip down to his underwear and pull a cold one from the fridge? (Not a good look for me, by the way.)
The answer: Don’t be an uncomprehending frog. Common sense picks up where the charts and graphs leave off. Intuition may not be scientific, but then the sixth sense that spooks animals before an earthquake or a tsunami hasn’t been explained by science either.
For my brother-in-law Nat who lives along the Barrington River in Rhode Island, a sign of impending trouble is the mussels growing in the warm water around his dock.
He has never seen them this early and the seagulls, which are really nautical pigeons, have been feasting and plastering in that order. When he went to the store for a seagull deterrent device to keep the dock clean, the store had sold out of them.
The crack of doom for me was columnist George F. Will’s recent piece decrying the alleged media hysteria surrounding global warming. This is the same fellow who in 1979, with uncanny timing, decried the dangers portrayed in the anti-nuclear power film "The China Syndrome" _ just before Three Mile Island proved the film’s fears somewhat plausible.
Yes, better batten down the hatches. Nothing is more frightening than a huge hurricane fed by warm seas. I can almost hear that terrible shrieking sound, not of the wind but of reactionary toads desperately yelling, "It’s not global warming! It’s not global warming!" in the teeth of the storm.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com)