This morning in Wichita, in the pale light of a low-rising sun, the temperature's not so far above zero. That's pretty darned cold for these parts, though it is December and the news stories today about winter storms "crashing" into the Midwest and "hammering" New England seem a little overwrought. People forget from year to year that a certain amount of cold and snow, in the few weeks surrounding the winter solstice, is not really remarkable. At least if you live anywhere north of Texas.
I've seen worse. I'd be happy to share anecdotes about the winters in Montana, the times it got 50 below and your spit, if you were a spitting person, would freeze before it hit the ground. It was way too cold to take a leak outside or start any kind of engine; you bundled up like the Michelin man to grumble through your chores and then you hunkered close to the stove and argued about who was going to bring in some more wood. By the way, if anybody needs advice on unthawing frozen pipes, I'm an expert on the subject.
Most of my weather stories are lies, of course, magnified and distorted through the murky lens of several decades, but I still say they don't make winters like they used to. Which brings me to the subject of global warning, and the idiots who weigh in on the comment boards of newspaper Web sites. Today on the Wichita Eagle's site, the daily weather story has devolved into the usual impassioned diatribes between left and right. One cold snap apparently proves that global warming is a sinister fraud perpetrated by the Trilateral Commission, or somebody. On the other side, it proves that people unsure of the science are creationist morons. As with all discussions among those who prefer to remain anonymous, it's a debate characterized by mindless certainty. Just a matter of time before the Nazi metaphors start flying.
A not-so-great man once said, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" I'll field that one, Rodney: The answer is no, as long as nobody's using their real name and every disagreement becomes a matter of faith rather than reason. Look, there can be no question that climate change is occurring, just as it has from the dawn of time. The question is the extent to which mankind causes it, and the extent to which mankind might make it better. There's also the question of weighing the cost of mitigation efforts against the benefits that can be expected to accrue.
Those are complex questions, and way beyond the ken of a man sitting in his bathrobe on a cold winter's day. I have my own opinions on the matter and I will vote accordingly, but at the moment I don't feel like trying to convince some other idiot in his bathrobe that my view is the only one with merit. I suppose that's why I never sought public office. I know it's why I don't attend church regularly. On Planet Dave, there are just too many things that can't be known.
Fortunately, the weather outside right now is not one of them. In a few minutes I'll have to go out in it. Nothing like a wind-chill factor of zero to clear the mind of extraneous details.