Friday, November 12, 2010

Global Confusion

“Ugh, it’s pretty warm for a spring evening”

The man next to me mumbled. We were waiting for the bus scheduled at 17.10. It was late roughly for about half an hour - quite unexpected from American Metropolitan transport services.

“You know it is all connected...”

He spoke to nobody in particular. But it so happened that everyone else in the bus stop were further away for a healthy conversation with him, leaving myself in his verbal custody.

“It's all happening now...”

I tried to ignore him. It is not common for the strangers to talk with you in this part of the world, particularly without any personal reason.

“... I've been taking the bus for past seventeen years. Never been this late. We've got the next one almost due now...”

He kept on talking. Since it is Sunday, next bus is due in forty minutes interval. Buses run sparsely on Sundays. But today they run late too.

“This damned bus is taking my life time. Oh... It's all happening now. Because of Global Warming!”

Global Warming... and the bus delay? That sounded like hot chocolate and Mount Everest to me. For the first time I glanced at him.

He was a middle aged man with spectacles. His grey hair has lost its territory in most parts of his head. A denim trouser, leather boots and a shirt which can be from any corner of the town - nothing special registered with me.

“Ugh, this heat.”

He ignored my gaze unbuttoning his shirt and blowing some air for his own comfort. It was not such a hot day, but pretty hot for this time of the year.

“You know. Mankind is destroying this planet. It is so wrong and unfair to take the nature at our hostage”

I'd have liked this conversation at the university coffee shop. But when it happens at the bus stop I am quite reluctant.

“... Glaciers are melting” he almost whispered at me. It was not easy to ignore.

“I've heard so” I answered with a signature of don't care encrypted on it. Where is this bus?
“You WHAT?” He screamed. “I have seen it.”

And he continued.

“Yeah, I saw it when I last visited Alaska and Greenland. Most of the areas that were under thick ice are growing plants now. Real Estate man! You can build your own house if you like”

“Do you visit Arctics often?”

“Oh yes. I do”

“Well, for me, all I get is the news from media. Planet is surely warming. And mankind is responsible for it”

“Oh yes, in a very big way”

“Are you a scientist?” curiosity overwhelmed me.

“Not the laboratory type” he answered. Laboratory type! So there is another type. He continued.

“I'm an amateur scientist. A field volunteer”


“Those laboratory scientists you know, they spread myth.” he whispered again.

“Yeah” my tone never meant it.

“You never believe me, ha?” he picked it.

“They say that man is coming down from the monkey. And Monkey comes a long way down from the basic bacteria”

He waited smiling, perhaps expecting me to join him at some point.

“Are you a creationist?” I asked instead.

“No not really”, he said. “Some Sundays I go to Church, if that is enough to qualify...” he laughed with a pause.

“... No, I didn't mean that. But who knows, it is so unbelievable for me that man came from monkey, even hard that monkey came from bacteria”

“That's proved science”

“Laboratory science my man... Laboratory science” He corrected me.

An entire slide show of news leads, school board meetings, public protests, court cases ran through my mind. It is unbelievable how the wealthiest nation with money and knowledge misses out simple understanding.

“All right, so let's not argue about it”

I was fortunate only for a couple of minutes. He opened up again.

“A thunderstorm is forecast tonight. Maybe the bus driver is worried about return journey” he said.

“They have never been so. I think we have good transport services in this part”

“Who knows. It has never been this hot in early spring anyway...”

“... you know it's all happening now. With Warming comes chaos. Total anarchy”

I started wondering whether I'm talking to a retired Hollywood script writer.

“You said you're a scientist. Do you have proof for the relationship of Global Warming and all the other events that you mention?”

“Yes I do...” he said plainly.

“... but not the paper proof, you know. I'm not a laboratory scientist.”

Another pause.

“And there has never been a thunderstorm in this time of the year”

“I think the increase of temperature causes it all” I said to fill the blank. I'm getting addicted to this conversation now, not that I like it in a big way.

Global Warming causes it, yes, the sin of the mankind”

“So what is your suggestion for it?”

“Protect the glaciers, you know, very simple”

“I thought you ought to reduce CO2 emissions in order to do that”

“Oh my my. Laboratory science. What a mislead” he laughed at me. I was dumbfounded. He went on.

“It is the melting of those glaciers man...”

“... Planet Earth had enough refrigeration. It will remain, had it not for mankind. Glaciers are melting now. What happens when all ice melts? Up goes the mercury”

He presented better than a Wall Street economist.

“But what makes it hot is the CO2, isn't it? And that increase of temperature causes ice melting”

I stated. He laughed at me again.

“Didn't I tell you? Laboratory scientists spread myth. Ask from a man in the field like me”

“OK then what causes the rise of temperature?”

“The melting of ice” he stated plainly.

“Then what causes the melting of ice?”

“The rise of temperature...”

“Ugh. Circularly caused?” I said.

“You're a genius young man. I know where you're heading. But you ought to learn more science. That's what they call positive feedback. A little chunk of ice melts. Up goes the mercury a bit. A little more ice. A little high mercury. And it continues until they build a city on North pole!!”

City on North pole!!! I gave up. But he continued.

“... and all this is because of humans. They cause it all. They are destroying this planet”

I took a moment. But I'm so much involved in this conversation now. Curiosity is taking its toll on me.

“Your visits to Arctics. Do you sponsor yourself?”

“We've got an organization going. Well, I spend some money too”

“What is your objective? Scientific expeditions?”

“No not really. Mostly leisure activities ...”

“... such as bear hunting and seal hunting !!!”

“And you talk about conservation?” I regretted the question right after I fired it.

“Oh yes. Conservation of glaciers. That is the problem we face now”

A warm breeze blew across the town twisting a rare flank of dust. Weather forecasts rarely fail in this part. It’s time to think of alternative transport.

“Do you think it is wise waiting here anymore?” I asked him, expecting that he would.

“Well, I think I'd wait a bit more. You can take the taxi if you like” he showed me a taxi parked at distance and continued.

“I don't take taxis now. The fare is ever on the hike. The fuel costs. The barrel is past hundred now...”

I waved at the taxi, which didn't take much time. My newly found friend yelled at me as I got in the taxi.

“You know why the barrel hit the hundred? Global Warming. That's why”


  1. Loved the flow in this story; so natural; makes the reader want to know what happened next. And just like that story about the taxi driver, we learn a hidden aspect of the 'conservationist'; but in this case, it pops out so unexpectedly. Beautiful writing.

  2. Thanks Nalini. Human psychology is so contradictory. I wish I can study more. It is a very interesting topic.

  3. There are many misconcepts on Global warming and its effects.....Sujeewa has nicely depicted one of this....Great work...the story is nicely flowing...

    1. One big reason why many are mislead is the role of media. Cinema, like film Day After Tomorrow [which lead the list of most scientifically improbable movie, until "2012 EOW" came], is one major crisis. While appreciating there publication of these pressing issues to common mass, there are two big errors they make. Firstly they add too much spice to make it a sell, and hence spread lot of myth. Secondly when the myth is revealed the public discard teh key message also with teh myth hence disbelieving teh whole idea.

      Anyway, you can even take Global Warming as a metaphore here. We live with many such confusions

    2. Thanks for visiting reading and sharing your ideas mayya