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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • COLUMN: Today's downer brought to you by climate change

  • If the amoebas ever grow stingers, all might be lost.
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  • We get bombarded with so much negative stuff day after day after day. And not just negative stuff like someone shooting up a movie theater or the stock market having a bad day because of the "Euro crisis."
    No, these are the bad things that make you question the very future of human existence on this planet. You know, things like July being the hottest month in the history of recorded temperatures on the planet. It's become a fairly regular occurrence, breaking all-time temperature records. It makes you wonder how hot the planet will be in, say, 30 years, or 50, or 100.
    It also makes you wonder about your kids, and their kids, and their kids. At what point will our changing climate change enough so that the humans and other creatures inhabiting the planet have to take shelter indoors? When will things reach the point where water is rationed, or where water becomes more precious than, say, oil, or gold, or corporate stock holdings, or land, or money? Or Facebook friends?
    When will so-called "extreme" weather be such a normal occurrence that it's no longer considered extreme? When will the next dust storm that envelops a city in Arizona decide to rage on for days or weeks instead of a few minutes, choking out everyone trapped in it? When will the next wildfire simply become too intense or too large for firefighters to extinguish, and losses are measured not in a house here or there or a neighborhood going up in explosive flames, but an entire town, or strip-mall dotted suburb? When will the rising oceans start making our nation's land mass smaller, not by an inch or two a year, but by turning cities on the coasts into our own versions of Venice?
    What a downer, huh?
    Sure, it's an awfully heavy-handed start for a weekly column that's often frivolous and borderline silly, but I can't help it. The Times' new website is all glitchy, and I'm feeling slightly more cranky than usual.
    But don't blame temperamental technology, blame the amoebas for my down-and-out, destitute state of mind today.
    Yes, the amoebas. Or maybe the singular form of the word, amoeba, is more appropriate. It was a freshwater amoeba, after all, that got up a 9-year-old boy's nose while he frolicked in a lake near Stillwater, Minn. earlier this month. This particular amoeba attacks human brains, and the boy, after first being told he had the flu, was dead in a matter of a couple days.
    Because he goofed around in a lake with his family. In the state that we call home.
    The lake is now closed to the public. It might be next summer, too.
    And why? Because a long, hot summer makes lake water warmer than usual, and this particular amoeba thrives in warm, murky, sediment-filled water. While the amoeba isn't known to be thriving in any other Minnesota lakes at this particular moment, health officials are advising that lake swimmers everywhere clip their noses shut, especially if they're diving.
    Page 2 of 2 - Well isn't that nice? My parents live at a warm, murky lake, and when our sons, who visit often, go swimming, they spend about 90 percent of their time partaking in diving contests. Their mom joins in, too, to show them that she's still got it.
    So clip those noses, people! You don't want an amoeba turning your brain to tapioca.
    Longer, hotter summers bring out the bees, too. No, not the honey bees that we all love, the ones who produce a tasty treat and fill a function crucial to human existence known as pollination. No, they're fighting for their lives, too, with that whole phenomenon that has massive colonies mysteriously dying off.
    Longer, hotter summers produce more wasps and yellow-jackets and hornets...the kinds of bees that seem agitated and even angry all the time. They're road-ragers with wings, and stingers, too. A column appeared here only a week ago that recalled crazy hallucinations experienced by the author over the years on the rare occasions that he'd been stung.
    And then, only a day before the column was published, our son made the mistake of going too close to some bushes at the golf course and was attacked by a swarm of yellowjackets who flew like lasers out of a hole in the ground and stung him around 10 times.
    So if you're scoring at home, you can't swim and you can't golf. At least not without a nose-clip and an Epi-pen handy, respectively.
    And why? Because winters are getting shorter and summers are getting longer, and it seems that for the most part, bad things thrive in the heat, and bad things like to hurt good things, because all things tend to get agitated, aggressive and cranky when they're too hot.
    It's not likely to get any better from this point on, you know.
     Have a nice day. Or try to, at least. It's hard to know just how many nice ones we have left, before the amoebas evolve and grow stingers.

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