Global Warming' Rant

photo: cafe l'etoile marquant

Cafe terraces aren't full, but they aren't empty either.

'Best Intentions' and Other Fictions

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 11. December 2000:- I can't tell if the mild weather Paris is having is 'freakish' or not. Having the TV-weather people say night after night that the temperatures are 'above normal' for the season is a welcome change, especially since it is December and 10 days before the beginning of winter.

My memory isn't the best, so I can't pin down the number of times when the forecast is for 'completely normal' temperatures. In Paris, anyway, any temperature is only 'about' - somewhere about plus or minus 'X' degrees. The same goes for the 'above' or 'below' for-the-season numbers.

Even though we enjoy metric temperatures here in Europe, the French weather doesn't bother with any number after the 'point.' Keeping this in mind, the weather is so far above 'normal' that I haven't even been wearing a sweater.

This is, if my memory is correct, the first time in about 24 years that I haven't automatically put on a sweater the first thing in the morning. This means that this 'above normal' we are having is somewhat akin to a heatwave.

This is great. It means I can hobble as slowly as I want and not worry about getting cold - there's no need to try to hobble fast to keep warm.

Along with the warm weather, I am pretty sure the rainfall is 'above normal.' In other partsphoto: xmas decor, daguerre of France it has been far 'above normal' and some people have had to spend some of their time sweeping mud out of their living rooms.

And a suburb of a little town near Calais had a five-minute tornado the other day. Roofs were ripped off and some houses were pretty much blown down; and a caravan took a fairly long flight. Nobody could remember anything like it.

While Paris has been balmy for several weeks, storms have been battering France's coastal areas, especially near the Channel. Winds have been causing damage - like the freak tornado - but mostly it's the rain, and too much of it.

Global Warming?

I don't know if this 'freak weather' is due to 'global warming' or not. If it is, it will affect all of us sooner or later, if it hasn't already.

Scientists have been talking about the 'greenhouse effect' for a long time now. But every time there is an international conference on the subject, with calls to 'do something about it,' the conferences usually end with a decision to 'study the problem.'

This is the worldwide business' answer to most problems affecting the planet. Putting off tough decisions as long as possible reflects positively on short-term profit results.

This head-in-the-sand attitude is crazy. Businesses don't 'pay' for anything - it is end-users who pay the whole bill.

In the short-term, trying to do everything 'on the cheap' may benefit stockholders in the form of higher dividends. But if the problems are ignored long enough, the damage will rise to heights that will even affect stockholders who have installed themselves in ritzy chalets 1000 metres above sea level.

The world is run like the emergency ward of a hospital. It is set up to put a bandage on whatever gets broken. We have a world held together with patches, tape and baling wire.

Aren't we supposed to be smarter? We have gas gauges in our cars to warn us to fill the tank before it runs dry. We routinely pay insurance premiums to offset the effects of random chance that life throws in our paths. What is it that prevents us from doing this on a global scale?

Is it because we allow business to call the shots? Their argument that 'doing the right thing' would be so expensive that we'd either be out of work or wouldn't be able to afford it anyway - is a pure and simple scare tactic - since it is we and not businesses who pay for everything in the end.

What is the point of having and paying for a world full of universities full of scholars, if we are going to ignore what they are telling us? It doesn't seem to be very clever.

Café Life

This aspect of life in Paris was not absent last week, but it did suffer from circumstances. I found café bar tops less than perfect supports for a wayward leg in a cast, which could reach most café floors, but didn't like any particular position on any of them.

This shortened my stays in cafés to the strict minimum of lurching against bars only long enough to down the standard double jolt of café before getting on my way to less interesting places, slowly.

The Rest of the Last Issue

Good intentions have an indefinite value but it is nearly zero if they aren't realized. My attempt to get Paris' Christmas and New Year program into the abbreviated last issue didn't get beyond 'good intentions.'

In theory, having a leg in a cast should not hinder thephoto: legs friend transposition of a bunch on information to these pages. During the week in a series of trials I have found that a leg in a cast is a handicap - I can't figure out where to park the darn thing.

The dog that forgot what my step sounded like and started barking.

It doesn't like leaning on the floor. My rear-end doesn't like sitting on my work chair - a crummy piece of junk on its good days - sideways, while my leg endlessly looks in vain for a comfortable leaning angle.

Hobbling around the uneven surfaces of Paris called sidewalks, to get a few new photos for this issue, has been a slow but fairly easy undertaking in comparison.

Putting off the worst for the last is a human trait I share with most people. Despite its Saturday dateline, this issue's 'Scene 2' is the last thing done - it's sole claim to fame will be the number of hours it causes Metropole to be beyond its notional deadline.

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