It seemed everyone knew the answer except me. Though I'm sure I often come across as a know-it-all, I didn't have the gall to say whether global temperatures will go up a few degrees in the next century. Heck, I'm lucky if I can remember to take an umbrella when it looks like rain. So, instead, I recycled plastic bottles and planted trees and left the big stuff to the experts.
But after Kyoto, I'm starting to get worried. It seems most people have stopped arguing about whether the climate is going to get warmer. Instead, they're arguing about whether it matters, or whether it's worth the expense to try and stop it. Most depressing of all, some of them are now saying that even if we take drastic measures immediately, it's already too late to make much of a difference. So why bother?
I find it hard to relate to all this. But in some respects it hits home. For one thing, instead of saying "global warming" now, they're calling it "climate change." Now that's something I can appreciate. When I spent all last summer watering my garden, or two winters ago found myself shoveling four feet of snow, I kept swearing under my breath that something really was messing up the weather.
Anyway, I'm not going to wait any longer. That's why I'm making my list. Now let's see ...
First of all, supposedly the icebergs are going to melt and sea levels will rise anywhere from six inches to three feet. I shouldn't be directly affected by that. I figure my farm near Clear Spring is about 700 feet above sea level, so I'm safe. However, millions of people do live near the sea, and they might start getting very wet and head for the hills. So I'd better build a big fence around the farm to keep them out. I'll need plenty of fence posts and wire.
Next, with the changing climate, we're apt to have more weather extremes, like last summer's drought. I've already started saving empty soda bottles and filling them water, just in case. On the other hand, maybe we'll get more rain, instead. I'd better have the sump pump checked. And in case there are bigger windstorms, I should make sure the roof is in good shape.
I don't know what to do about heating and air conditioning. If this climate change stuff really does get bad, there'll probably be all sorts of restrictions on energy use. I guess I should stock upon firewood, and buy some of those old-fashioned fans that actually keep you cool when you wave them back and forth under your face. Not quite Fedders, but better than nothing.
Next, I have to figure out what to do about my garden. They say that as the climate gets warmer, animals and plants will "retreat" north when it gets too hot for them here. I guess I could start planting bananas.
I also have to make a note to call my doctor and ask him to vaccinate me against malaria and dengue fever. Those diseases are spread by mosquitoes that can't survive in cold weather. But if it gets warmer here, they might work their way up from Mexico to Clear Spring and start biting me. I also could put up some more houses for bats, since they eat lots of mosquitoes.
And on the bright side, I can stop worrying about catching winter colds, or getting frostbite.
This is getting more and more complicated all the time, and expensive.
Maybe I should just stop worrying about it. Maybe it won't even happen.
Besides, even if it does, the worst of it will be after I'm dead. I can just leave it to the younger generation to take care of. I'm going back to my Christmas list. It's much more fun.
Dennis Shaw is a former Herald-Mail editor. Write him at P.O. Box 276, Clear Spring MD 21722, or call 301-842-3863.