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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Down Under Goes Under

Yesterday one of the news services -- I think it was the Bloomberg people -- ran an item whose headline read something like, "Nuclear Winter in Sydney Australia." (I'm not giving the link because it refused to lead to anything on my computer, and I had to go to another source to find out what could have induced a headline writer to forsake truth in writing, in favor of such gross sensationalism.)

'Hmm,' I thought. 'Nuclear winter is a very serious business, and so dire that no one should ever think of using that term loosely.' And I hadn't heard of any nuclear bombs being exploded anywhere near Australia recently. I had the feeling that the French tests in nearby Polynesia were long over, and anyway, how could there ever be a good reason to drop a nuclear bomb on Australia? Notwithstanding that it has contributed more than its share of interesting movie actresses and a fair number of worthwhile, whimsical little films as well, Australia otherwise is just a gigantic desert that features an incredible array of the world's most poisonous snakes, and with a narrow rim of beaches where everyone lives and beyond which are nothing but oceans filled with poisonous jellyfish.

It turned out to be just another instance of how Australia seems to be coming under the hammer of climate change sooner than most places, and on top of fires that have already ravaged parts of that subcontinent hogged by only one country, there's been a bad drought in New South Wales. So the "nuclear winter" was really a dust storm of the type that hits the planet Mars all the time, and what little topsoil there is in the deserts nearby has been picked up by the winds, carried to Sydney, and dropped there wholesale, turning everything not white but tan and orange and red, and instead of a winter that lasts for years, it's been more like a volcano has blown its top and is making the simple and absolutely essential task of breathing hard for the unlucky people in that part of big, gritty Australia.


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