The internet’s nothing if not self-referential. A post by Fred Clark over on Patheos, pointed out to me by my brother-in-law, has received 235 comments (at the time of this writing) for a topic I’ve addressed repeatedly, to no avail. I know my place. In any case, the topic which brought such furor was that severe weather is caused by divine displeasure, something I’ve addressed a time or two. In fact, I’ve written a book about it. Never mind, some of us revel in obscurity. Fred is writing about the remarks of former Tory David Silvester that the UK has been suffering unusually severe weather because of homosexual marriage. That’s really old news to those of us over here in the colonies; Pat Robertson told us as much after Katrina (although he didn’t limit the sins to homosexuality). Sex tends to stir up storms of its own, regardless of divine voyeurism, while we ignore the obvious culprit—global warming. (Culprit of unusually severe weather, not of sex.)
Global warming, as a recent conversation with a very smart undergraduate confirmed, is a poor name choice. Those of us on the northeastern coastal corridor have been shivering a lot this winter, and snow has remained on the sidewalks of Manhattan for more than a single day at a time. You call this global warming? Yes. The science behind climatology tells us that warming the overall temperatures of the globe will result in erratic weather, including uncharacteristically cold and freezing in some locations, dampness in others, while yet others experience, yes, warming. We know it is real, we know it is happening. We just don’t know what to call it. Some choose to call it God’s wrath. Others choose to name it more properly human shortsightedness. After we hunted the last mammoth down, we decided to start building bigger fires to warm the ice age up a bit. Those fires have been burning ever since.
My book on the weather, by the way, suggests that divine control of the elements is an essential part of the biblical mindset. To ancient folk this was a no-brainer. God is in (his) heaven and messing with the HVAC system is one of the ways (he) passes the time. Down here we may shiver, become parched, or get washed away. It’s all a matter of the divine thermostat. As Fred Clark points out, the divine temperament sets the temperature based on human activity. Sin leads to unusual weather. Unwittingly, however, David Silvester may have gotten it right. There is a sin involved, and that sin is called global warming. No deity need be involved. We have shown that humans are quite capable of messing with the thermostat on our own. And the day I get 235 comments on anything it will be a very cold day in a place famed for its heat.