A small piece in a very bog puzzle


You might be starting to wonder if God has forgotten what He told Noah — you know, the part about not destroying the world by water again.

It seems like every time we turn around, it’s raining here. We usually get somewhere between 3.5-4 inches of rain in Troy in June. Before last weekend, we already were closing in on 6 inches.

The Little League fields are flooded again (don’t get me started again on how a town that brags about being kid-friendly can’t figure out how to build a few decent baseball fields); the roads always seem to be wet for us bicycle riders; and there have been floods both north and south of Troy.

On the positive side, I haven’t had to water the flowers much, although my grass grows about 2 inches a day. And it could be worse — we could be in California, where they have forgotten what water looks like.

Scientists will tell you that this is all related to global warming, and I imagine they probably are mostly right. I know it’s popular around here to deny that humans have an effect on the environment, but it only makes logical sense that when you have a world population of more than 7 billion people driving cars and running factories and generally moving around, it’s bound to have some kind of impact. Why, just having 7 billion humanoids cranking out 98.6 degrees every morning has to do something to the surrounding atmosphere. Add to that 19.6 billion chickens and 1.4 billion cows spewing methane into the air and, well, quite frankly I’m glad to still be able to breathe.

How bad is it? Well, it’s hard to tell. I generally don’t trust scientists as much as most people because I know scientists are like the rest of us — they act like they know what is going on when they really don’t. What’s dangerous about them is some of them really think they do know everything that is going on. I remember back when I was in college in the early 1970s the big climate prediction was we were entering into another ice age. They sure missed that one.

Lately scientists have been talking a lot about the Earth’s five mass extinction events and warning us that we’re heading toward number six. Here are the five that already have happened:

• About 440 million years ago, massive glaciation iced things up, causing sea levels to drop and killing off lots of marine life. I guess you could have called this global cooling.

• Somewhere around 360 million years ago, an unknown event started that caused the extinction of 70 percent of all marine life on Earth.

• Close to 250 million years ago, about 90 percent of life disappeared. Scientists think this was due to a really big asteroid or maybe lots of volcanoes going off at one time. Or maybe both.

• About 200 million years ago, there was a 20 percent kill-off, apparently due to a huge lava flood or maybe an asteroid. Scientists always blame things on asteroids when they can’t find anything else.

• And then the one we all know about. About 65 million years ago something got the dinosaurs. The leading suspect? An asteroid, of course. Or maybe global warming caused by volcanic eruptions. Or maybe they didn’t wear their seat belts or ate too much sugar. Hard to say.

That brings us up to today. The big warning is that global warming may trigger the sixth extinction. Most of us really don’t care about the first five and wouldn’t care about the sixth if it weren’t for the fact that this extinction could be us! That would be uncomfortable. All this rain and warmer weather and climate change could be a precursor to the one big flameout. Or not.

After all, we could just take it on the chin from another one of those mystery asteroids some Monday morning and that would pretty much bring down the curtain.

If the asteroids don’t get us, we might just eat ourselves to death first. When I was a boy, there was a lot of talk about how starvation was an epidemic — if you didn’t clean your plate, you’d hear about how there were children just like you starving in China, as if eating those last lima beans would somehow help those poor Chinese kids out. Now, we hear about how most Americans are really fat and we’re probably all going to just turn into blobs and die before the asteroid has time to hit us. It’s a tough life hurtling toward extinction when there are so many paths to take.

I guess I could get all panicky about being the pin in a cosmic game of bowling with no way to stop the ball, but that probably won’t help. I prefer to think of it as a reminder that I’m just a small piece in a very big puzzle. Maybe my little daily problems aren’t so big. Maybe I should spend more time thinking about the people I know than worrying about the future. Maybe I should do all I can to take care of the Earth, but at the end of the day rely on something a lot bigger than myself.

And maybe I’ll just enjoy the rain while I can.

comments powered by Disqus