IN THE TIME OF CHICKEN LITTLEWe were on our way to church this morning, innocently, when one of our passengers exclaimed, "Wow! There's a hurricane coming!"
At first I couldn't imagine what this observation could possibly be based upon. I did know that a poorly organized tropical depression might become the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season today, and might be named Alberto. Might. Then I saw what they were looking at. In the newsstand next to the bus stop were several newspapers with a front-page photo of a mature hurricane--a Cat 5 with a perfect eye.
Albert? No, it was a picture of Wilma from the 2005 season.
Why do you suppose they put a picture of Wilma on there instead of Albert? Probably because Albert isn't very impressive. He doesn't even look like a tropical storm in the satellite photos.
We live in the time of Chicken Little, where everything is a crisis, whether the actual facts bear that out or not. If there's a forest fire, it's global warming. If there's a blizzard... you guessed it... Global warming. If there is a major hurricane, even though we are in a natural active period for hurricanes... Global warming.
The emissions from my car cause global warming. The emissions from Al Gore's private jet do not.
I saw the same picture of Wilma on the news last night. (Wilma is history. Honest! I can remember 2005.) I also learned that there is a child predator on every block. Hey, do I exaggerate? Isn't showing a picture of Wilma when one is talking about a piss-ant tropical depression an exaggeration too?
This brings to mind a different time, early in the 20th century, when forecasters refused to call the 1900 storm that swept through Galveston a hurricane; how cavalier officials were about the icebergs prowling the North Atlantic when they declared the Titanic to be unsinkable.
What a difference there is between the time of denial and the time of never-ending crisis.