Gravity is just a theory, too

So there was this guy in some newspaper writing that he didn’t believe in global warming. And it struck me that’s now a technical foul. Five years ago, you could approach global warming as a partisan issue, as you would abortion. Now, I’m not so sure. Christ, there’s just a whole bunch of glaciers that are going away, and I’m not inclined to think it’s the handiwork of Dr. Evil. Yes, I will let you tell me that you don’t or do believe in UFOs. Fine. But if you try to tell me that you don’t “believe” in global warming, you need to understand that that’s sounding more and more like a statement from the depths of Crackpot City, akin to saying “I don’t believe the Germans perpetrated a genocidal holocaust on Jews in WW2.”

So what’s up with all this super stubborn denial when it comes to this gigantically important development? My guess is the Denial Zone in this country is inhabited by the same 30 percent of unbudgeables who insist Mr. Bush is one sharp sonuvagun. But it’s not like it’s a radically new concept people have to swallow, the concept of humanity as Supreme Environmental Troublemakers. Big hole in ozone? Us. Destruction of huge chunks of rain forest? Us. Decimation of once-thought-to-be-infinite fisheries? Us. Texas-sized sections of ocean filled with pieces of plastic? Us. It therefore just doesn’t seem that tough to make the successful leap to the notion that all us hot little humans, all 6.6 billion of us, might actually be heating things up a bit on this here Rock.

For some reason, the passenger pigeon comes to mind. This story is the avian equivalent of the bison story. Maybe worse. When our Euro-trash ancestors got here in the 18th and 19th centuries, they discovered that the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird on this planet. More like a large dove than a modern urban pigeon, this bird traveled in flocks for which the word enormous is pitifully insufficient. Some flocks were estimated to be 300 miles long. 300 miles! That’s a flock stretching from Reno to Elko, for God’s sake. And these weren’t birds flying single file. They were thick enough to actually darken the sky, on occasion. Between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River, there were billions and billions of passenger pigeons. It’s safe to say, we’ll never see anything approaching that kind of stupenditude ever again.

All you can say about our forefathers—they must have been hungry. Real hungry. Because they got over here and ate those doggone pigeons. All of ’em. Every last stinkin’ one of ’em, gobbled up in 150 years or so.

Nature: Uh, look, there are a whole lot of these birds. More than I can count. Would it kill you to leave a billion or so?

Forefathers: No way. We want ’em all. Take it or leave it.

Nature (under her breath): Unbelievable.