Warehouse C

Forgetting The Past

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World In Self-Destruct; The Signs Are In Front Of Our Nose

By James Donahue

While watching the nightly news hour on our local television channel this week I was struck by the bombardment of subtle signs that our world has gone daft.

In more than 50 years of observing and writing about world events, this writer cannot recall a time when world-wide weather was striking with such destructive force over so wide an area and with such regularity.

I remember heat waves, when the thermometer topped 100 degrees and things got really uncomfortable for a day or two. It might happen once or twice in a summer and we just spent the day drinking lots of water, swallowing salt tablets, and staying in the shade as much as possible.

I recall once summer when it rained nearly every day. Fields were flooded, the streams were rushing and it was hard for a young boy on summer break to find a lot to do to occupy his time. Those were the days before we had television and computers and we spent our free time working and playing under the sun.

There was what we remember as the Flint Tornado of May 12, 1956. That storm was probably the most frightening weather events of my memory. While we didn't live very close to Flint, the effects of the storm touched our lives. That is because that super tornado not only ripped through the heart of Flint, Michigan, but it marched easterly on almost a straight line toward Lake Huron, coming out a few miles north of Port Huron. It laid trees, houses, barns, cars and utility lines flat.

And there was that terrible winter of 1947 when we had so much snow that the roads in or out of our town were closed by snow drifts that were higher than cars. Schools were closed for over a week. I remember they brought mail in that week on a single-engine aircraft that landed on skis in an open field not far from our home. It was the first time I ever got to see an airplane up close.

Those were the extremes. They happened, but they were rare enough that they became milestones in our lives. They were events that all of us who lived through them could talk about for years afterward.

Now storms and weather events of that magnitude seem to be occurring every week. Super tornadoes are so common we see the results of them on our television screens almost weekly, from Florida north to New York state. Hurricanes and super typhoons are sweeping the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and raising havoc when they come ashore in Asia, Australia and North America. The winter gales, winds, snows and ice storms have been making headlines in both Europe and the United States every since the strangely warm weather exited the Northern latitudes in early January.

This week the weather prognosticators are arguing among themselves over just what is causing this "whacky weather." Some say it is the effect of global warming while others say it is a normal cycle of weather patterns and we should not be alarmed.

The latter group are obviously in denial of the obvious. This writer has lived far longer than they have, and we have never seen a pattern of "whacky weather" like this . . . ever.

Looking beyond the weather news on that nightly television broadcast, we also were struck by the number of advertisements directed at ailments now striking not only senior citizens but the middle-aged as well.

New medical treatments are promoted for treatment of such things as erectile disfunction, joint pain, sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome, asthma and depression. It occurred to me that these are all symptoms of our environment. We are being bombarded by invisible radio, television and microwaves from cell phone communication systems. We live in an overcrowded world of noise and air, ground and water pollution. Everything we eat is filled with chemicals that damage our bodies and our nervous systems. The air we breathe is filled with soot and chemical dust. The water we drink is saturated with the same toxic stuff.

The world has changed radically in the last 50 years. From my years of observation, the changes are not for the better. The doomsday soothsayers make strong points when they predict the end of the world as we know it.

--January 19, 2007