I check out Arctic weather frequently. The Danish Meteorological Society has a website devoted to Arctic weather, and I watch the average temperatures rise and fall. Most of the year, the graph that emerges is jagged with steep climbs and drops, but there’s a reassuring patch with a gentle predictable curve during summer.
The gentle part of the curve lasts about two and a half months, from early June to late August. It starts when the average temperature rises above the freezing point of water. As soon as that happens, it’s as if a new dynamic law takes over. Well, not really as if, I’m sure. The melting that happens must drive it. Anyway, the curve proceeds in a long low arc for those two and a half months, never getting much higher than a couple of degrees above freezing before dropping back down to freezing again.
It’s reassuring because it says that when the ice melts north of 80 degrees latitude, something calming takes over. Chaos dampens out.
Then CNN had to go and report that, just as the Arctic summer was ending, Greenland’s summit got rained on for the first time since records have been kept. Rain, not snow, 2 miles above sea level on Greenland’s ice sheet.
It seems, behind the average picture of calm weather throughout the Arctic, there’s still some chaos in Greenland’s local weather.
Greenland’s summers keep leading to excess warming and ice melt-offs. Rivers of melted ice flow into the sea, raising global water levels measurably, in a process that is accelerating too much. It’s getting scary.
There’s a meteorological station at the summit, where researchers keep track of the local weather conditions. They’re probably going to need hip waders soon. They’re going to be wading around in slush.
I’m not saying it’s time for all of us to panic about rising sea levels. But maybe Floridians should get started.
In other incomprehensible news, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who I think will not be governor by the time you read this, said something in passing during his resignation speech that I thought was curious. He denied accusations of sexual abuse but did say that maybe he was late to notice that the cultural norms regarding such matters had changed around him.
That’s Andrew “Rip Van Winkle” Cuomo. He must’ve dozed off at a party at the Hugh Hefner mansion sometime in the late ’70s and sleep-walked his way to being governor, just to wake up a couple of weeks ago. You’ve probably thought consciousness was a prerequisite for the job of governor of a state. Not so.
The most incomprehensible events of the day are what’s going on in Afghanistan. It’s another case of sleep-walking, this time by all of America. The whole country just woke up after 20 years of fighting a war it never wanted to start in the first place and started freaking out about it.
The idea we could just walk away from the war and Afghanistan would do fine defending itself from the Taliban doesn’t look so good now. It looked great last year to the Republicans when Trump proposed it during his second term. But now they’re saying Trump never would have left Afghanistan without getting the Taliban to meet certain unspecified conditions.
You know, conditions like every time a soldier for the Afghan government says, “bang, bang,” the Taliban would all have to lie down. The Republicans are suggesting Biden should have held the Taliban to conditions like that. Trump’s deal with the Taliban never meant that we would leave and they would just do whatever they wanted.
Well, that’s another stupid war that’s come to an end. Let’s not get into another one anytime soon, shall we? We’re apparently not as good at fighting foreign wars as we think we are.
How can that be? We have all these weapons. We have a professional army that’s better trained than any other in the world. OK, our civilians can’t find anything on a map, but I can assure you that our army does teach map reading and teaches it well. I know. I learned map reading from a U.S. army manual.
Go on, ask me what it means when contour lines cross.
That’s a place with an overhang, perfect for Wile E. Coyote to run off and drop into the canyon below. Best to be avoided.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more of the Aug. 25-31, 2021 issue.