Global warming has now joined religion, sex and politics as the fourth subject one should not try to engage in during the course of civil conversation. Aside from being a profitable and convenient third profession for Al Gore, after being vice president and inventing the Internet, nobody really knows what global warming is (if it is), where it began (if it began) and what to expect of it in the future (if indeed it really does exist.)
With temperatures over a hundred degrees much of last week, global warming Texas-style has been a topic of some uncivil conversation recently. My friend Art Veneris, whose politics range far to the right of Ghengis Khan, storms out of my house at the mere mention of the topic. He claims to have researched the topic back three generations of Venerises and claims we are in fact in a cooling off period of history. He also uses this logic and his unpublished scientific findings to support oil drilling in Alaska, Canada, the Colorado River and my back yard.
Since nobody else knows or can do much more than venture a guess as to its origin, it occurs I am about as qualified to weigh in on global warming as anyone else. I not only believe global warming exists and is a real phenomenon, I believe I was there at its inception.
The universe gave birth to global warming on a Wisconsin dairy farm beneath a hot tin barn roof during the middle of haying season on or about Aug. 15, 1964. Prior to that period of history I had never been asked (or told, as the case may be) to enter the haymow to stack haybales being sent up an elevator from the relatively cool outside, where 100 degrees was not uncommon, even then. Having reached my 13th birthday, however, the wrath of global warming was brought upon me.
After 15 minutes in the stultifying heat and humidity of a tin enclosed barn roof I became convinced that the phenomenon now referred to as global warming had indeed occurred. Being continually subjected to it constituted what has come to be known by the ACLU as cruel and unusual treatment.
My brother was there to witness the event as well, so itís not likely I was hallucinating though the intensity of the inception of global warming could indeed warrant an episode of heat stroke or worse in an otherwise healthy man or boy.
Global warming has stayed with us over the years. There have been particularly gruesome attacks associated with rock landscaping, clearing fence lines, threshing oats and cutting thistles with a hoe between August and October. Ironically, folks under 40 are most likely to believe in global warming. Those over 40 simply wave off with disdain the younger generationsí reluctance to accept the environmental results of hard work. My extensive research consisting entirely of 57 years of conversation with my 83 year old father would indicate a 100 percent correlation between the onset of global warming with getting out of bed during the summer months.
Now, after 44 years or so, sweating and aching muscles has become global warming and is a hot topic not only during summer Texas heatwaves but on conservative talk radio, in Hollywood documentaries and the scientific community where equally compelling cases have been made both in support of and in refuting the environmental significance of hot weather trends.
Had I been astute enough to identify global warming for what it has become , perhaps I, and not Al Gore, would have invented the Internet. As it is, the only other certain observation that can be made is that it gets hot in the summer time in lots of places.
John Kliebenstein is circulation and operations manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Tuesdays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.