I have been an observer of the struggle of experts to convince politicians and the general public that the Global Warming Climate Issue is urgent ever since Dr. James Hanson’s testimony before Congress in 1988. One reason why it’s so hard to make a convincing argument is because carbon dioxide is a faceless, odorless, colorless gas that is slowly increasing in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. It’s hard for many people to think of part of the “air” we breathe as destructive to the habitat that the human race depends on for civilization to continue. Day to day weather, particularly after the turn of this century, is being affected, but there are still enough cold events as of 2017 to sway even the most intelligent people towards the argument that climate change is either not occurring or is not a very big deal.
What if a “face of evil” could be put on carbon much like there have been faces of evil throughout human history. “Carbo”, or that face of evil, is my fictional, twisted character that persuades “humans” that global warming is not a problem so that he can “release his trapped friends”. As is so often the case with “human villains”, Carbo did not intend harm but just wanted to attain a certain goal, which was only to release his fellow trapped carbon molecules. Carbo gets more evil and stronger with time. I have written that Carbo, “the malevolent molecule”, has much in common with those who are delaying any adaption and mitigation efforts to thwart climate change.
These stories chronicle some of the major climate and weather related events in the history of climate change from the Industrial Revolution to the present time. In my alternative universe it’s very easy for inanimate objects to come to life in amusing and sometimes frightening ways. The stories/books get deeper and darker as Thermo and my fictional “face of evil”, Carbo, matures, and the global warming problem gets worse. After the fictional part of each story I present a relatively short, educational post documenting what happened or is happening in the “real world”. I have presented climatologists and meteorologists as heroes, particularly those who I have personally known in my thirty plus year career at The Weather Channel. I hope everyone enjoys the stories and will be a little more enlightened after each chapter.
Story 2. Playing With The Clouds
It was a beautiful, bright, sunny mid-summer’s day in the Plains in the mid-1960’s. Thermo the Flying Thermometer was playing with his pals Puffy and Fluffy. Puffy and Fluffy are what are known as fair weather cumulus clouds in the world of weather. Fluffy said, “It’s such a delightful day, let’s ride the air currents to see what we can see”. Puffy retorted, “O.K. I hope that we have an adventure”.
After moving over the Plains for a few miles the very young Thermo looked up and spied Wispy who in the world is weather is known as a cirrus cloud. Cirrus clouds are made of ice crystals and reside around 30,000 feet in the atmosphere. Wispy had always been a tease, but was a lonely fellow wanting to “make” more of his kind. Wispy wanted to make “ghosts” of those frivolous cumulous clouds floating well below him when he spied them. From high above Wispy shouted to Puffy, “Hey little cloud, come up here. I bet you can’t fly this high!” Puffy, who could never turn down a dare, said to Thermo and Fluffy, “Ha, that little wisp of a cloud, can’t tease me.”
Fluffy became alarmed, though, saying to Puffy, “You have never been that far off the ground before. Maybe you should go on your way and ignore Wispy.” Thermo also said, “Hmm, I don’t know what will happen to you if you get as high as Wispy. We’ve always just played together and never seen how high we can leave the Earth.
Puffy ignored both Fluffy and Thermo and began to rise higher, but his mood began to change. He felt sadder and sadder and began to darken. He also began to grow in size and feel very bloated. Fluffy, Puffy’s sister, and Thermo began to get alarmed. Suddenly Puffy began to shed tears (also known as rain). Thermo said “Oh no, you are beginning to turn into those dark clouds we have often seen in the distance. I think they are called thunderstorms. Please come down!”
All the while Wispy was waiting in anticipation knowing that the end result of a cumulus cloud becoming a thunderstorm would be more cirrus clouds. In the weather world thunderstorms are meteorologically termed cumulonimbus clouds. Wispy dearly wanted to have more of his own kind in the sky that day.
Thermo knew what to do, however. Thermo quickly propelled himself high into the sky above the poor little cloud then blew a warm wind with his jets causing Puffy to stop rising before lightning bolts came out of his head. Warm air above cumulus clouds prevents them from turning into thunderstorms. The warm layer is also known in the world of meteorology as a cap. Relatively cold air above cumulus clouds rapidly turns the clouds into thunderstorms by causing columns of air to rise rapidly. Yes Thermo in his brief, young experience on the planet had seen this happen to cumulus clouds before. Puffy slowly decreased in size and rejoined Fluffy and Thermo.
Wispy thought, “Rats, I will have to trick more clouds into playing with me.”, and went on his merry way with the jet stream winds. Puffy, Fluffy and Thermo returned to their frolic above a green meadow on the Plains.
In the real world cumulus clouds can easily blossom into thunderstorms provided that there is enough moisture and lift in the atmosphere. What is termed a “cap” in the Plains is caused by warm air aloft preventing “rising motion” in the atmosphere, which prevents thunderheads from developing even in a moist environment. When thunderstorms do form and mature “anvil” shaped formations made of cirrus clouds develop at the top of the storms. When the storms dissipate or die out very often those cirrus clouds are all that remain of the storms.
The text and artwork are copyright Guy Walton.
Artwork is by my friend, Alyssa Josue.