Martha's Jellies

John McCaslin
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Posted: Aug 06, 2008 10:51 AM
Martha's Jellies

If nobody else, Marc Morano, minority communications director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, got a chuckle out of the Massachusetts woman who is blaming her daughter's "nasty jellyfish sting" on global warming.

Posted Tuesday on Huffington Post, and then redistributed by Mr. Morano on Capitol Hill, Laurie David writes that several days ago she "heard a blood-curdling scream from my twelve-year-old who was swimming twenty feet away from me in a large salt water tidal pond. What could possibly have happened?"

After all, she goes on to observe, "seconds before she was laughing and splashing with her friend. Now she was crying with a huge red welt on her leg."

Mrs. David draws attention to "hundreds" of red stinging jellyfish that "have just shown up around Martha's Vineyard and the Cape like never seen before." She further cites an article in last Sunday's New York Times, which says scientists are blaming a number of factors for an increase in jellyfish worldwide, including overfishing and a rise in seawater temperature caused by "global warming."

"Back at the pond my daughter's friend felt the effects of global warming herself not eight minutes later. She cried too," Mrs. David adds.

Columnist's note: Mrs. David might actually thank "global warming" for providing the ground on Martha's Vineyard for her and her daughter to stand on.

Prior to hiking a stretch of the Appalachian Trail last week, I read the 1998 best-seller "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. Consider the following passage:

"And here is a thing that most of us fail to appreciate: we are still in an ice age, only now we experience it for just part of the year. Snow and ice and cold are not really typical features on earth. Taking the long view, Antarctica is actually a jungle. (It's just having a chilly spell).

"At the very peak of the last ice age 20,000 years ago, 30 percent of the earth was under ice. Today, 10 percent still is. There have been at least a dozen ice ages in the last two million years, each lasting about 100,000 years. The most recent intrusion, called the Wisconsinian ice sheet, spread down from the polar regions over much of Europe and North America, growing to depths of up to two miles …

"As it soaked up the earth's free water, sea levels fell by 450 feet. Then, about 10,000 years ago … it began to melt back. No one knows why. What it left in its wake was a landscape utterly transformed. It dumped Long Island, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and most of Martha's Vineyard where previously there had just been sea. …"

ALREADY COLD

Given the suddenly high energy costs in America, certainly residents of usually frigid upstate New York are hoping for a warmer-than-normal winter season.

As Rep. John Hall, New York Democrat, points out: "Families in my district use heating oil to stave off winter cold, and too many of them are already shivering. We're not even into the heating season yet, and already prices in the Hudson Valley are over … 70 percent more than last year."

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