We got a new terror threat, it's called the weather. More deadlier than chemical and nuclear together. It's hotter in the winter, even hotter in the summer ...
As I took in the view around me just before noon last Sunday -- the clear air, blooming pear trees, green grass sprouting up to overtake its gray-brown predecessors -- I was momentarily overwhelmed by the absolute splendor of nature.
I set out on a short walk, and a slight breeze stirred up the unmatchable aroma of wild honeysuckle. I actually found myself considering paradise as snippets of a Jimmy Buffett song played in my head.
A few minutes later, a mile or so into my walk, my visions of Margaritaville were shattered when I felt a plop of moisture on my arm. There had been no rain in the forecast, though, and I was momentarily puzzled. The water turned out to be sweat that had started running down my face, bringing with it a realization: Here it is, March 18, still a few days shy of winter's end, and it's 80 freaking degrees in the middle of the day.
Knowing that the relentless hell of south Georgia summer was still a good three months away, I started worrying. It didn't help matters the next day when I came across an email at work from Meghan Evans, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, that deepened my concerns.
According to the release sent by Evans, more than 1,200 record high temperatures were recorded over the past week, sending the number of record highs for the year soaring to near 6,000. And this wasn't in some general area that might have been impacted by a lingering front. Records were recorded in every region of the country, from coast to coast.
And still we have people who serve at the highest levels of government, people even who want to be president of this nation, who deny the potentially devastating impact that climate change is starting to have on our world. You can't, it seems, acknowledge the "CC word" if you're another hog being fed from the money trough filled regularly by Big Coal, Big Oil and other industries that might lose a fraction of a percentage point off profit margins if stricter environmental controls were in place.
("Climate change," by the way, is the popular new phrase that replaced "global warming" when said hogs gorging themselves at the money trough sought to discredit scientific fact by ridiculing use of the phrase, and the wimps who were presenting those facts decided the best response was to create a new name. ... Go figure the logic there.)
The thing is, though, politicians can deny scientific data all they want, and they can use some of their payola to hire PR groups to spin what's slapping the entire country in the face into some kind of harmless anomaly. But 6,000 record highs (compared, according to AccuWeather.com, to 2,800 during the same period last year) kind of speak for themselves.
And with the warmth and humidity spawning tornadoes as far north as southern Michigan -- which never happens -- we're just seeing the beginning of what can happen when higher and higher levels of captured greenhouse gases continue to wreak havoc on our atmosphere.
Southerners, particularly those in Florida beachfront communities, have long grown accustomed to the presence of winter "snowbirds" making their way to warmer climates while waiting for the snows back home to melt. If this ungodly heat continues, Southern states are not only going to lose a vital component of their tourism dollars, they're going to lose the tourists themselves.
It's hard to convince people to visit your touristy attractions when the customers start melting and spontaneously combusting.
Once those phenomena become common occurances, we're likely to see a summertime population shift. When the snowbirds get wind that three or four dozen of their rank melted into puddles of goo while waiting in line to take their grandkids on some amusement park ride, you'll see them start looking for places with more moderate weather, places where they don't risk the fate of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West just by stepping outside.
They'll look for places with a milder, more temperate climate ... which, the way things are going, is likely to include places like Cleveland or St. Paul or Far Rockaway or Boise.
As long as recorded history has existed, various species have chosen a path similar to the one being taken by humans now; they've befouled their environment to their own growing detriment. There's a term for these species' eventual outcome: Extinction.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.