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Tony Grist

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Always Look On The Bright Side [Aug. 18th, 2004|09:11 am]
Tony Grist

I love heavy rain. Yesterday we had bouts of it. There was one just before Ailz and I set out on foot for the health centre and another just after we arrived back home. Good timing, eh?

Of course I'd rather watch from shelter. Under cover of the Rashomon gate for instance....

Down in Cornwall heavy rain- perhaps the same belt of it that hit us later- caused a flash flood that swept away the heart of the village of Boscastle. Amateur video footage showed cars being swept down stream and out to sea. At the last reckoning no-one appears to have been killed.

It seems like our weather in Britain is getting more and more extreme.

I don't altogether understand the panic over climate change.  The way I see it, it's going to happen whether we humans help things along or not.  During the lifetime of our species there have been any number of switches. There was the Ice Age of course. And before the Ice Age our corner of Northern Europe enjoyed a climate in which giraffes and hippopotami flourished.

Maybe I'm being naive, but I think we underestimate our ability to cope...


P.S. The spell checker has problems with the word "Boscastle".  It suggests that I may have meant to type "bookstall" or "bisexual".

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mtl
2004-08-18 04:10 am (UTC)

I hope all is well

with bad weather!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-18 08:55 am (UTC)

Re: I hope all is well

Thanks. My home town- oldham- is built on top a hill, so flooding is one of the things I don't have to worry about.

There's a grand thunderstorm going on as I write!
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-08-18 08:16 am (UTC)

Survival

I don't altogether understand the panic over climate change. The way I see it, it's going to happen whether we humans help things along or not. During the lifetime of our species there have been any number of switches.

It's exciting to me to remember that we really don't have much information--how long have we been recording information about climate? We've been on this planet in our present form for a very short time. There may be interesting shifts coming soon!

I've often thought it would be fun to be part of a Grand Shift, but only if I got to see what was going on. Obviously. Because if I got wiped out when--say, when the comet hit, well, that's it.

Maybe fun isn't the correct word. Invigorating. Overwhelming. Scary but revitalizing.

When bored silly in my l-o-n-g years of work at a national laboratory, I'd walk in the vast parking lots during lunchtime, look out over the old 1940s brick buildings, and pretend I was one of few survivors after WW III (the circumstances were irrelevant--I could just as well have survived a comet). I'd pick out a structure to live in--usually a small warehouse or welding shack near a creek--and pretend I had no choice, and had to live there. I'd spend happy hours over many walks figuring out a bartering system with the other survivors who'd live within the borders of the sprawling laboratory--I remember particularly savoring a scene in which I went inside one of the big brick buildings with a scrap of soap and traded it for a candle some old woman had. I would always savor my pleasure in inhabiting a small solitary structure rather than being crowded into the brick buildings with the other survivors.

As my life improved (fewer debts, fewer sorrows, better working conditions), I found I no longer wanted to make up survival tales.

I think this mechanism is built in. I think we'll cope with almost anything if we want to survive enough.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-18 09:24 am (UTC)

Re: Survival

I was always fascinated by pictures of the "frost fairs" they used to hold on the Thames in the late 16th century. These days it is unthinkable that the Thames should freeze over. I don't believe it happened during the Middle Ages either.

It was an anomaly- a mini ice age- and people made the most of it. They got out their skates and their sledges and their furs. There's a rather splendid frozen Thames episode in Sally Potter's film version of Orlando.

I think you're right about there being a built-in coping mechanism. I remember when I was a small boy we were told (by some barmy religious group) that life on earth was going to be wiped out by a huge tidal wave (they even named the day). I thought this was a thrilling idea ( because of course I would be one of the few survivors) and had all my plans laid for a Robinson Crusoe existence.
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2004-08-18 10:58 am (UTC)
Any species that can't cope is quickly gone from the Earth, so the mere fact that we're here shows that we can cope. It's more a question of quality of life. If I had the option to live in a place and time where every ten years a hurricane caused $10 million in damage, or a place and time where every two years a hurricane caused $50 million in damage, I'd prefer the former. But I could cope with the latter.

Your spell checker reminds me of a man I used to work for twelve years ago. His name was Jim Schnös, and of course no spell checker had any idea what to do with Schnös. The suggestion the spell checker always gave was "schmooze", which honestly suited the man perfectly. :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-18 11:13 am (UTC)
Exactly. We can survive in most conditions- we can even live (after a fashion) in Antarctica. I guess the fear is that civilisation might not survive an extreme change in the climate; no more internet, no more LJ- now that would be a test of our moral fibre....
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[User Picture]From: scathedobsidian
2004-08-19 09:41 am (UTC)
I, too, love heavy rain.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2004-08-22 02:21 pm (UTC)
I recall reading a few years back, in all the hubbub over global warming, that some scientists believe we're living in the tail end of the ice age, and that global warming is just the planet returning naturally to its hot and humid pre-ice age state.

This would mean that there truly is no escape from St. Louis summers...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-08-22 02:46 pm (UTC)
The scientists just don't agree. Twenty years back the majority opinion seemed to be we were heading for another ice age and now the majority opinion is that we're warming up- but always their have been minority reports as well. I've heard so many different scare stories down the years that I'm getting to be very, very sceptical.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2004-08-26 11:01 am (UTC)
Scare stories sell better though, and everybody thinks it was hotter/colder/brighter/happier a generation before than it is now. ;)
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