Satire on Global Warming: NY Times 7/24/98

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Fri, 24 Jul 1998 10:22:32 -0400

July 24, 1998 New York Times:

        Global Warming Is Our Friend
        By T. H. WATKINS

            OZEMAN, Mont. -- Once again, while the worst heat wave
            in years kills people right and left (more than 130 at last
        count) and the residents of much of the country shrivel like
        sausages, conservative economists have come forward to explain
        that what we thought was bad for us is in fact very good for us

        Take, for instance, Thomas Gale Moore, a fellow at the Hoover
        Institution and the author of "Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't
        Worry About Global Warming." In this book and elsewhere, Mr.
        Moore argues that the whole phenomenon of global warming
        should cause us to stand up and cheer, not gnash our teeth or, even
        worse, get the United States foreignly entangled in shady global
        warming treaties. 

        "Humans, nearly all other animals and most plants would be better
        off with higher temperatures," Mr. Moore claimed in an article in
        The Wall Street Journal last October, a theme elaborated upon in
        his new book. Among many other advantages, he says, agriculture
        would flourish because there would be more rain and longer
        growing seasons. Winter heating costs would plummet. Also,
        despite what the current toll might suggest, he insists that more
        people die from cold than from heat, and that if the United States
        continues to bake like a Butterball turkey, as many as 40,000 lives
        could be saved annually by 2099. 

        It brings me a hot flash of gratitude to know that I and those I love
        will have a better chance at life when the temperature makes us
        drop to our knees and bite doorknobs. But there is even more to be
        said for global warming, I think. 

        Consider what an economic shot in the arm ocean-front casinos
        would be for Winston-Salem and Atlanta. Or how coffee and
        banana plantations in the Cascades would compensate for the
        old-growth timber taken off the market through the efforts of
        spotted owl groupies. The film industry would not have to go all
        the way to the Philippines to shoot Vietnam War movies; low-rent
        Des Moines would serve just fine. 

        But I am particularly taken by what increased rainfall and soaring
        temperatures might do out here in the High Plains, where the
        ranching and farming industries are in shambles. Town after town
        has turned to cappuccino bars and prison construction to take up
        the economic slack, to little avail. But as rainfall increases
        exponentially and rivers start to bloat, the region will be
        presented with a sublime opportunity. 

        A lot of dams already plug much of the Missouri River and its
        tributaries. Forget them. Stick in one really big dam at, say, Little
        Eagle, S.D. Soon, an inland sea will emerge, one larger than the
        Great Lakes combined, stretching from western Minnesota to the
        Flathead Range of western Montana, from Rapid City, S.D., to
        somewhere near, or over, Birtle, Manitoba. 

        There will be obstacles, of course. But pesky state and
        international conflicts over the project could be worked out by
        Jimmy Carter, the former President and all-purpose mediator,
        while private property rightists would welcome the opportunity to
        gouge the Federal Government as compensation for their now
        submerged real estate. We can shift folks on the Standing Rock
        Indian Reservation down to the Pine Ridge Reservation; they're
        used to being picked up and moved around by now, and we can
        always name the body of water Lake Lakota. 

        The lake, of course, would be a magnificent tropical sea, and
        there's the beauty of it. You want islands? Rebuild Bismarck,
        Helena, Great Falls and select other short cities on big platforms,
        borrowing the technology from the script notes for Kevin
        Costner's "Waterworld." (Unselected towns would be deep sixed,
        of course, but how many cappuccino bars and prisons does the
        country need?) Plant palm trees all around. Kathie Lee Gifford
        would soon be warbling on American-made cruise ships the size
        of Cleveland, which would sail from island to island, distributing
        tourists in flashy dress who would buy millions of covered dishes,
        samplers, cow statuary, sachets and other handicrafts from the
        colorful natives. 

        Sure, we would lose what's left of the area's cattle and wheat, oil
        and gas. But most agricultural products would be grown in the
        Yukon River Valley by then (cantaloupes probably would be
        confined to the federally watered deserts of Maine), while the
        enormous ranches of the Nome Peninsula would revivify today's
        decrepit free-range cattle industry and the oil and gas fields of the
        Arctic Ocean would, if anything, glut the market. 

        And think of what would follow: percolating seaside factories
        grinding out jet boats and cabin cruisers; year-round resorts
        bristling with beach-front hotels; condominiums ringing the shore
        like conglomerates of grain elevators (many would be old grain
        elevators); millions of retirees fleeing the twice-a-day hurricanes
        of Florida and settling here amid the balmy gales and lush,
        county-sized golf courses of beautiful Lake Lakota ("Where the
        Big Water Meets the Big Sky"). 

        Take me out of the oven, Mom. I think I'm done. 

              Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company 

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