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SCIENCE FRICTION.

30 January 2006

Suppose, twenty years ago, in the mid-eighties you read a science-fiction book in which the following things started happening.

First, there’s an incredibly warm spring. Then, a record-setting, oppressively hot summer, that seems to stretch all the way into December. Then an unbelievably mild winter. During this time, because of the heat, the hurricane season is so extensive and severe that for the first time, we make it all the way through the alphabet to W, and then through the Greek alphabet through, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Hurricane Epsilon, and then finally Tropical Storm Zeta, shattering the old record by 129%. Then on January 29, 2006 (in our science-fiction story), the lead story in the New York Times reports that the Presidential administration tried to silence NASA’s top climate scientist from speaking out about the problem of global warming. This headline occurring the day after the main character and hero of the story–that’s me, by the way–gets a mild sunburn walking around Brooklyn, New York on January 28th (which really did happen to our hero last Saturday, not incidentally).

The book, titled Hurricane Epsilon, would not have sold well, if it had been written. Why? Because people would have said that the idea of such bizarre weather coming about in only 20 years would have been too outlandish to be believed.

This doesn’t sound like one of those science-fiction stories with a happy ending, I gotta tell you. This sounds more like one of those Soylant Green or Mad Max sort of science-fiction stories.

It’s been running about 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal since the middle of last year. It was at least 25 degrees above normal today in Manhattan, NY, after being 22 degrees above normal on Saturday; 22, 25, and 27 degrees above normal three days the week before; and 21 to 24 degrees above normal three days the week before that (and 13-18 degrees above normal three other days that week, and 9 degrees above normal the other day).

What’s it going to be like when it’s 25 degrees above normal in July? What’s it going to be like a few years later when maybe it’s 40 degrees above normal or more? Maybe that’s never going to happen. But why isn’t anybody talking about how strange and scary the weather has been for the past ten months or so?

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