This article first appeared in the November issue of 24/7 Magazine
There is a team of mad scientists who have, beyond all sense, created a Weather Altering Doomsday Machine and are currently wreaking havoc on our poor delicate planet. Their ultimate goal is to become rich beyond our worst nightmares; destroying humanity is just a side effect.
I don’t know if you remember the New Avengers movie where Sean Connery’s character builds a dastardly weather machine in the heart of London, and threatens to bring on endless winter, unless the leaders of the world give him a bunch more money or pronounce him “King” or such. He’s a bit like a modern-day Doctor Frankenstein; it’s a pretty common thread in science fiction.
It shouldn’t surprise you, although it should terrify you, to learn that this weather machine is not simply pulp fiction, but a stark reality. It is apparent that some evil geniuses have designed and build this machine; they have been using it quite a lot too. This should surprise no one. In the back of your brain there is a little voice saying, “Ahhh, that explains it.”
I’m not sure when this doomsday machine became fully operational, but the extreme weather over the last two years alone should be enough to convince anyone of its existence. Last summer’s heat wave snuffed out over ten thousand souls, just in France. Last year’s Boxing Day tsunami was the worst in three hundred years, leaving over a quarter of a million people dead. This year, Hurricane Katrina has made us look at tropical storms in a whole new light. Weather is no longer pleasant conversation topic.
There is a long list of names that are used to christen tropical storms. If a storm is particularly gruesome then that name is retired from the list, in the same way that a star athlete has his jersey number retired and hung in the rafters. This way Hurricane Katrina can never return to New Orleans, (except, of course, under an assumed name.)
In the 1970’s, eight names were retired, and in the 80’s; seven. The 90’s saw 15 names retired from the hurricane list. We are only halfway through this decade and already fifteen names have been axed. The rafters are filling up rather quickly.
This side of the world has experienced a similar spike in storm activity. Typhoon seasons are starting earlier, lasting longer and producing stronger and more frequent storms. At this rate, instead of a typhoon season, we will soon have a calm season for three to six weeks in January and typhoons will be the norm.
There have been a number of reports published that say the Earth is melting like an ice cube in the sun. Siberia is beginning to thaw for the first time in over ten thousand years and is set to release billions of gallons of methane. Each of the last four years has seen less and less ice in the Arctic, and the polar bears are as thin as greyhounds. Soon, all of Santa’s elves will be furiously treading water.
This melting is caused by a rise in global temperatures. The increased ocean temperature is what gives so much gas to these tropical storms. The melting raises sea levels, putting coastal settlements at greater risk. Ask the residents of New Orleans, or the Maldives, if you can find any.
The debate on global warming starts here. One side blames human activities, like deforestation, and the burning of more and more fossil fuels. The other side blames natural cycles, or increased sunspot activity. If it is just celestial mood swings then there is nothing we can do. However if it is human activity, then sitting here doing nothing but blaming the heavens is a fairly primitive reaction for such n advanced species.
In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote her famous gothic horror, Frankenstein, about a brilliant young doctor who is killed by the monster he creates. Like us, Victor Frankenstein wouldn’t listen to the warnings of his peers. Our mad scientists have decided to cut down most of the trees in paradise, decided to reverse the car trends of the eighties and nineties and invent SUV’s. Unlike her mad scientist ours are making trillions of dollars.
Shelley’s mad scientist killed a few villagers, but our mad scientists will not stop there. Remember that this is a global village now, and our mad scientists have never been so powerful. And still here we sit blaming the heavens. We’ll be throwing virgins in volcanoes next, if we can find any. Remember that in the end her mad scientist was killed by his mad science and her warning to us is that we could be next.