Burt Prelutsky

When I was a kid I collected stamps. I never had much of a collection; most of my stamps were commonplace, the sort that came in packages of 500 for a buck or two. But I enjoyed looking at them and sticking them in my big blue album. They gave me a sense of the world beyond Los Angeles and a grounding in geography, but, mainly, I liked them because they were pretty.

My favorites came from a place called Tannu Tuva. Stamps must have been a major source of income for the country because they really went all-out. Most nations were satisfied commemorating monarchs, explorers, and presidents on little squares and rectangles. But Tannu Tuva’s stamps were huge and colorful, and, often as not, they were triangular.

As I look back after all these years, I seem to recall they were often illustrated with wild animals and jungle scenes. Which is why I assumed the country was tucked away somewhere in Africa. Only recently did I learn it’s in Asia. (I did say that collecting stamps gave me a grounding in geography, I never claimed it turned me into Marco Polo!)

While moving from one place to another, my stamp album and I got separated. I took it as a sign. For a while, I considered collecting coins, but I never really liked the way they looked.

It wasn’t that I lacked for interests. I always liked music; books; movies up until, say, the 70s; tennis; poker; and, of course, writing. But once the stamp collection went missing, I fell out of the habit of collecting things.

But in recent years, I’ve found the old urge creeping up again. The things I find I now enjoy sticking in a book are the really wacky, self-serving statements made by politicians. For instance, all by himself, Al Gore, Mr. Junk Science, could fill a fair-sized volume.

Of late, Mr. Gore has become the Cassandra of global warning. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, he’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere, proclaiming that Omaha will soon join Atlantis at the bottom of the sea. Being a liberal, he naturally closes off any possible debate by insisting that no serious scientist disagrees with his dire prophecies. Any climatologist who dares to suggest that Gore is suffering from delusions of competence is branded a charlatan in the pocket of the oil industry.

Furthermore, Gore intentionally overlooks the cyclical nature of the world’s climate, which apparently has little or nothing to do with man’s relatively puny activities on this planet. One question among many that Gore ignores is how it was that in a Newsweek cover story in 1976 the question being posed was: What can be done about global cooling?