A pose l found congenial in those days â€” fairly common, l hope, among preâ€“adults â€” was that of somber glee at any idea of mass destruction or decline.
— Thomas Pynchon, Introduction to “Slow Learner” (1984)
While I plead guilty to a longstanding weakness for apocalyptic scenarios, I am apparently not alone in finding the current celebratory practices of TV weather-people highly disconcerting. It is as if I’m already viewing it as newsreel footage beamed to a future post-flood society:
Global warming may be turning the earth into a shriveled, flooded, lifeless swamp faster than Al Gore can jet around the country trying to stop it. But then also, the sun is shining; the skies are clear. There are no blizzards, no rain and no snow for the TV weather folk to report, no norâ€™easters coming up the coast and no southwesterly winds carrying accumulation from the Great Lakes. Manhattan has all the balmy imperviousness of Venice before the plague. The unpredictable weather patterns are yet to come.
On Dec. 11, the National Center for Atmospheric Research released findings showing that because of greenhouse emissions, the retreat of Arctic sea ice is increasing so rapidly that there wonâ€™t be any ice left in the Arctic Ocean in the summertime in 2040. On Dec. 19, government and private researchers projected the heat spell will last well into January. Someone named Mike Palmerino of the private firm DTN Meteorologix pronounced the chances of anyone in the Northeast enjoying a white Christmas â€œvery unlikely.â€
So put away those parkas and go for a stroll, New York! The only thing better than last-minute Christmas shopping is doing so on the eve of the apocalypse.
All that high-fiving puts me in mind of the end of Nathaniel West’s “Day of the Locust”, with residents partying down at the burning of Los Angeles.