Life Imitating Art?

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

When I was a kid, our house was hit by a tornado. A minor strike, taking down the first six rows of bricks from the chimney. From there, it crossed the street missing that house entirely, before landing directly on the house behind them. The roof was picked up off the house and laid sideways in the yard. My most vivid memory is of the sporting goods, as we looked at the rubble there was a football and a basketball in the corner, imploded by the tornadic pressure. And in the kitchen, all the drawers were pulled out, like it had been plundered by a higher power.

A few years later, my sister found a nice apartment in Chicago Heights. She was at work when the tornado hit. She lived upstairs in an apartment that used to have a roof on it. As terrible as it was, she lost mainly couches and dinette sets and bric-a-brac. She said the worst part, was the five minutes notice that she was moving out. Drive up to your apartment and guess what, you don’t live here anymore! But my sister always had extremes of luck, both good and bad. She moved to a downstairs apartment and was snowed in that winter for four days by a blizzard.

I was surprised by the attitudes of people who have never been in or near a tornado. Almost as if the tornado was just waiting behind the garage for you to come outside. In my youth, they were guerilla actions. The tornado would touch down for two hundred yards or a quarter of a mile. A pin prick like a missile strike. Now, somehow the pin prick is sometimes miles wide carpet bombing. These aren’t the same events that I remember from my youth. We had a “Tornado season” that didn’t last all year. Tornados hit neighborhoods and buildings, not cities and counties and most of all, not states.

Science and astronomy, taught us that on some of the planets with unstable climates. Storms could be perpetual, and tornados could last for years. But that was far, far, away in another part of town. Just an interesting science tidbit to ponder upon. Like Algebra, knowledge you don’t really consider all that useful in your day-to-day life, until one day it is!

2011, a tornado tore through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a mile and a half wide. It killed more than seventy people and did $2.4 Billion in property damage. Then the storm jumped the interstate and headed for Birmingham and after ninety minutes on the ground, was sapped of its strength. At the time, it was considered one of the worst tornadic events ever. Today, I wonder if it would even make the top five?

On that April day in 2011, 360 tornadoes were reported across the Southeastern, United States. Not uncommon when the weather begins to turn warm or turn cool and becomes unstable. Fortunately, most of the storms were of the touch and go variety, like the one that hit my sister’s apartment. But the storm in Tuscaloosa, destroyed whole apartment complexes. It was an unbelievable escalation of the event.

The very idea of a tornado on the ground for 225 miles is as astounding as something out of a Jules Verne novel, or a volcano erupting in downtown Chicago. Either tornados have developed intelligence, or something is making conditions right for devastating super storms to develop. Now take a storm lasting on average 100 or 200 times longer and more powerful than the Tuscaloosa storm, and then ask yourself, how does this affect me?

If you’re in Northern California, you’ll have good weather to fight the forest fires. In Colorado, they can scan the weather map to see if it is going to snow again this winter. Down South, the old timers used to say, “A warm Winter means bugs all Summer. That occasional cold snap could really temper the insect population. For the farmers in the Midwest flip a coin, head’s its drought and tails its floods. Here in the Southwest, we don’t have many tornados, but we’re running out of water.

Mark Twain lamented that, “everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Now in our computerized, compartmentalized politicized world, the lament is inverted. “Nobody looks at the weather, because nobody wants to talk about it.”  The weather is too political to talk about. It’s not the dry, drought emaciated overpopulated forest lands catching fire from the singing power lines that didn’t used to be there. It’s space lasers or sunspots, or poor forestry management. Anything, but the weather.

“I do hereby declare that our changing climate is the most urgent crisis of our time and issue this here proclamation. So, I’ve empaneled a blue-ribbon commission to study the issue. For years, if necessary, to find out the possible causes. And then to make a report and recommendations to me, which I will make available to you, and further the debate over climate change far into the next decade.  It is also hoped that my successor, will also continue to make reporting on climate change a priority.

“Everybody talks about it, and nobody does anything about it.”

Now imagine, the most diabolical cheesy space adventure of an Emperor, that Hollywood could dream up. A black hearted villain, who works the peons to exhaustion and to the planet’s exhaustion. Or imagine a button, and every time you pushed that button, you receive one thousand dollars. But every time you pushed the button, somebody somewhere died. Maybe women and kids, but who knows, maybe it will be quick for them. “I sure would like a new car!”

The crux of the movie, “Soylent Green” (spoiler alert) was that these books were discovered, and the books disclosed that the oceans were dying. But the good news was that third quarter profits were way up by nearly 20%. Thanks to the success of the new products division’s introduction of Soylent Green. Made from only the finest all-natural ingredients. They were quite literally willing drive the earth and its population into a cannibalistic hellscape, rather than the corporation change its ways. Is it life imitating art or art imitating life?

During its war with Spain, Queen Elizabeth the 1st, authorized privateers to raid Spanish shipping. The queen was short on gold and didn’t give a flying fuck how she got some more. The Chinese operate a pirate fishing fleet for much the same reason. The home waters are polluted and fished out and China needs more fish, and doesn’t give a flying fuck how they get it.

It really makes you reevaluate where we stand on the evolutionary scale. Smart enough to know the problem, and smart enough to solve problem, but that’s work and way difficult. That could affect our profit margin for years to come. Let’s do that tomorrow or next week maybe, or in a generation from now.

Gambling on a card we ain’t seen played yet. Any place with a 225-mile-long tornado this year, could easily spawn a 500 mile or 700-mile storm, lasting for days in the next few years to come. It’s unheard of, but no more so, than this storm was unheard of. Tuscaloosa was considered a once in a lifetime event and was hit with tornados, twice in two weeks.

You can deny climate change all you want, until you can’t. After an endless stream of freak storms and once in lifetime occurrences makes you a believer, whether you like it or not. Maybe after it’s your turn, for the lesson.

“So, what does Soylent Green taste like?” It depends on the person.

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