The year of no Al

A phrase on the receipt caught my eye: “Founded in 1816. The Year Of No Summer.”

It was from a feed store in the tiny village of Otego, upstate New York. Many years ago.

A little research taught me about that summer. Recently, columnist Walter Williams wrote about it. The story of that summer-less year is worth reading. And the best time to read it is at times when you feel Mother Earth is taking it on the chops.

Greens forever insist she is. They warn that our precious earth is doomed. Destined for Hell without the comfort of a hand basket. The thread that runs through their lament is that you are to blame. In one way or another. You and the rest of us inflict such severe damage upon Mom Earth that she will never recover.

I buy into many of their concerns. The plastics that clog oceans. The filthy air the Chinese suck in. Pollution of waterways anywhere.



But we part company when it comes to the going to Hell stuff. Williams doesn’t buy it either.

He describes the immensity of the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia. In 1883. You know how much damage the atom bomb over Hiroshima delivered. Imagine 13,300 of them exploding simultaneously.

That is not a misprint. Yes, 13,300 atom bombs. That was the force of Krakatoa. And it wasn’t even the largest volcanic eruption of modern times.

The largest was the 1815 Tambora eruption, also in Indonesia. It blotted out the sun. That’s how much ash and gunk it spewed into the atmosphere. Crops failed worldwide. Animals perished. Famine wiped out millions. The eruption brought about that year of no summer. We know something for sure about the first day that Otego feed store kicked open its doors: It was not a sunny day.

You worry that humans pump gunk into the atmosphere. Maybe you are one who classifies carbon dioxide as gunk. (Not everyone does.) If you believe the end is nigh, however, maybe this will console you: Three eruptions between 1883 and 1947 upchucked more sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the air than every activity of humans in the history of their existence.

Williams goes on to describe the devastation to Mom Earth from earthquakes. And floods. And asteroids. One of them left a crater 118 miles across.

Williams makes a few points. One is that the activities of humans are puny. Compared with what Earth has suffered from nature. They might not even be big enough to rank as puny.

Another point is that Mom does a pretty good job of recovering. She is more resilient than most of us think. Al Gore’s ranting does not change this reality.

So if you keep a Worry Locker, Williams suggests you toss out some of your worries. Like the worry that driving our clunkers will cause bananas to grow in Krakow.

If you need to keep the locker you might worry that an asteroid could wipe out Detroit tonight. (I heard your unkind retort.) You might worry that another Tambora will ruin the baseball season. You might worry that your favorite boob tube show will be cancelled. When Hollywood splashes into the Pacific in an earthquake. The Emmy for mass destruction this year goes to…

Yes, why not go for the upgrades. Take on some big league worries. They will give you status in your social circle.

“Hey, I was telling Larry and Mary about Al Gore’s theory. You know, that the butane lighters of Chinese smokers probably caused Katrina. They told me that is nuthin’. Absolutely nuthin’. Compared to the asteroid that is probably arriving, by FedEx Universe. It’ll exterminate Washington.”

And who knows, perhaps Al Gore with it. The Year Of No Al.

From Tom...as in Morgan.

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