When I was a young fellow I used to go surfing (not, I hasten to add, on a surfboard - never could stand up on a board. In fact I can't do any sport that doesn't involve being on firm ground, no skiing or roller skating either, and my one attempt at ice skating is still talked about by my daughters, in between explosive bursts of laughter, over 30 years later). Body surfing. You wade out until you are waist deep or a little more, and then, looking back at the breaking waves, launch yourself just before the top of the wave comes over you.
As a savannah-evolved, terrestrial-adapted, almost naked member of the ape family, the sea is not a natural place for you to be. While you can deal with normal waves, every seventh wave, as any old sea ape knows, is a big one. So I would ride in on a wave, relishing the power and exhilaration, six times, but who is counting? Then the seventh time I would stand there, looking over my shoulder, and suddenly sense that what was coming was the big one. Big, green, angry looking, gathering strength and speed. So I would, discretion always being the better part of my valor (except that one time on the skating rink ...), turn and head for shore and safety. And that is when I would realize that I was in trouble.
What is not obvious to an onlooker is that while you stand waiting for the next wave, the remains of the previous wave are being sucked back into the sea, the sea. And sucked back hard, so that it is an effort, on a day with surfable waves, to hold your position as masses of water swirl past your legs, pulling at you, trying to pull you back into the next wave along with sand and seaweed and the remains of long dead molluscs. You can usually brace and hold your position, but moving forward, reaching the beach, is another matter. And so you strain forward, one foot trying to move, the roar of the seventh wave growing ever louder. You can't, in fact escape, and next moment the big wave ("Dumpers" we used to call them in our town, as children, for obvious reasons) would smash you over and into the sand and tumble you and submerge you under masses of water and leave you with a mouth and lungs full of water trying to breathe. Scary stuff.
I was reminded of that childhood sensation the other day reading the responses to yet another HuffPost article on the development in the effects of global warming on this small planet, lost in space. The climate change deniers are dwindling own to a valueless few on this blog, but they keep endlessly repeating the same old discredited lies. And I remembered when I saw yet again coal miners demanding that there be no reduction in coal mining, electricity generators undermining efforts to help consumers reduce electricity consumption (less profit you see), foresters demanding that pulp mills be built and old forests be woodchipped, mining companies gleefully exporting ever more raw materials to China. Summed up by the APEC (aptly referred to by George Bush, in a marvellously Freudian slip, as OPEC) leader's conference the other day, where they thought that someday in the future they might consider having discussions to set up a meeting to talk about what goals they might set for possible emissions reduction. After, of course, China had reached levels of per capita emissions equal to America and Australia, and after countries like Indonesia and Malaysia had finished destroying all their forests.
I felt as if I was standing in the water, watching the climate change tsunami wave coming at me, unable to move because the undertow caused by all these unions and business leaders and politicians and fools was holding me back, holding the world back.
And I thought this is about to hit, and there is nothing I can do.
And I don't think I am going to find myself on the beach, a few grazes on knees and elbows the worst of the damage, after this wave has hit.
H.L. Mencken observed "Not all conservatives are stupid, but all stupid people are conservative." So does David Horton on The Watermelon Blog.