Frogs in the Cooker

Let’s just pretend we can’t feel the heat, rising almost imperceptibly (if we succeed in numbing ourselves with pop-culture, pop-politics novacaine.) We get used to new meteorological “normals” and banish from memory the way things were. It’s the other guy’s weather-problems, just turns out that the number of other guys is on the rise. It’s random. No call for alarm. Spend, buy, invest. Immerse yourself in the bathwater and enjoy a drink with a tiny pastel parasol. Boil, baby, boil.

Bill McKibben has had his ear to the ground on this particular chain of facts for more than twenty years. He is both inside the pot with the rest of us, and outside it, working tirelessly to bring our collective hands to the thermostat, to intentionally and with full awareness of our predicament, turn down the heat while there is (maybe) yet time. In his not-unusual tongue-in-cheek, from the WaPo…

…repeat to yourself the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods – that’s the important thing.

It’s very important to stay calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies. If worst ever did come to worst, it’s reassuring to remember what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the Environmental Protection Agency in a recent filing: that there’s no need to worry because “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” I’m pretty sure that’s what residents are telling themselves in Joplin today.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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