The Wasatch Behind: Green people and the specter of global warming
"I sure wish global warming would hurry up and get here," Uncle Spud said as he warmed his hands over a steaming cup of church approved Postum.
"You don't really believe that global warming stuff?" I asked.
"I've been hearing a lot about it," he said. "The news people say global warming is coming like a heat wave tsunami that's sure to cook our goose."
"Where are they getting their information?" I asked.
"From the scientists," he answered.
"Are we talking about real scientists or political scientists?" I asked. "It seems to me, there is a whole lot of political correctness involved in the global warming thing."
"They must be weather scientists," Uncle Spud said.
"Mark Snowbank, the TV weather guy, claims to be a weather scientist, and he can't tell me what the weather will be like tomorrow afternoon," I said with an air of perfect smugness. "The guy is 80 percent correct about 10 percent of the time. How can he pretend to know what the weather will be like in 10 years, or a 100 years from now?"
"It happened before," Uncle Spud said.
"Global warming happened before?" I echoed.
"Yup, it happened before," he said. "In fact, it has happened dozens of times before."
"Tell me about it," I said, as I poured another cup of hot Postum and settled down to hear what he had to say.
"Well," Uncle Spud began, "The weather is always changing. There have been alternating cold and hot spells over the past millions of years. It will be cold for a few thousands of years and then hot for a few thousands of years. The weather never stays the same for very long."
"There have been several ice ages in the past when a great deal of the earth's water was tied up in ice sheets a mile or more thick. Some of those ice sheets extended as far south as the Elmo frontier. There are actually glacial moraines and glacial valleys along the Wasatch mountain range. It was real cold here when that woolly mammoth in the CEU museum was living in Huntington Canyon."
"So where did all that ice go?" I asked
"It all melted when global warming began," he said.
"You mean we are living in a time of global warming now?" I asked.
"That's right," Uncle Spud said, "we've been in a period of global warming for a few thousands of years, and the world might be getting warmer still."
"Is that a problem?" I asked innocently.
"It could be," he said. "If the polar ice keeps melting like it has for the past several centuries, the oceans might cover the boardwalks in Atlantic City. The rising water might get New York and Honolulu, too."
"What can we do about it?" I asked.
"The green people want you to give up your sport utility vehicle and the gas water heater in your home," he said.
"What will that accomplish?" I asked.
"Probably nothing," Uncle Spud admitted, "but it would make the green people happy. They don't like SUVs and gas wells. They want the whole world to be wilderness like the great white north."
"If alternating periods of global warming and ice ages have been happening for millions of years, how am I going to fix anything by giving up my pickup truck?" I asked.
"The green people and their scientists say that exhaust from your car and gas water heater are filling the atmosphere with green house gases," Uncle Spud said. "That causes global warming."
"Now wait just a minute," I said. "If we've had a period of global warming for a few thousands of years, that means the world was warming up before we had SUVs and gas water heaters."
"That's true," Uncle Spud said. "The hot and cold weather cycles have happened dozens of times over millions of years."
"So what caused green house gases and global warming before we had cars and gas water heaters?" I asked.
"No one knows for sure, but it might have been volcanoes," Uncle Spud said with a big grin.
"Well, that settles it," I said. "Get Jane Fonda and Michael Moore on the phone and tell them I pledge to do my part to help fight global warming. I promise not to start, or to participate, in any volcanic activity here on the wasatch behind."