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Looking At Time With A Capital T
I keep a fossil on my desk at all times. Whenever I feel rushed or find myself creating a sense of urgency, I pick up the fossil and caress its polished surface. It’s over 200 million years old. Suddenly, returning that phone call or meeting that...
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Nagging Doubts

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There's always that nagging doubt isn't there? The nagging doubt that they just won't get it.

I went to the Post Office yesterday, the small local one round the corner, to draw a relatively large amount of money out of my account. Whilst in the queue, I saw a packet of refill cartridges going cheap. Half-price. Which in consequence meant it was around 50p to keep an ink pen running for a good year or so.

Thinking they might come in handy, I procured some and when I was at the head of the queue, placed them on the counter, saying casually to the postmistress that I sincerely hoped that the money I was drawing out would indeed cover the cost of the cartridges.

As I was drawing out in excess of £300, there was a strong chance really and my comment was merely meant to make her smile.

"Yes, it will," she said. Indeed, it appeared that she had done some quick mental arithmetic to make sure. The whole transaction was rather icy, in retrospect.

It could almost have been a precursor to the BBC2 programme I watched later, where on Horizon, it has been predicted that Britain could well, before long, be plunged into another ice age. (Postmistresses roaming the streets, doing unnecessary mental arithmetic, unsmilingly.)

That aside, Horizon proved compulsive viewing. At present, Britain enjoys its temperate climate due to the warm air brought to us from the Gulf Stream. But, due to global warming, were the ice sheets to continue to melt, we would have some major problems. It wouldn't get hotter, as you'd think. It would, conversely, get a hell of a lot colder here in Britain.

You see, the North Atlantic is an incredibly important area. From a meteorological point of view, you could say it is "strategic." It is the point where the Gulf Stream sinks to join what is known as the Atlantic Conveyor, a massive rotating belt which takes cold water back along the ocean floor to the tropics, where again, it rises, to begin the journey again.

This whole process relies on the salinity of the water. As salt water cools, it's density increases, causing this drop to the floor I just mentioned. What could bugger this up?

Well, naturally, fresh water from the melting ice-sheets, along with the huge Siberian rivers, which are flooding more than ever, contributing to this fresh water being thrown into the Atlantic.

Put simply, diluted salt water will not sink, the Gulf Stream would call it a day and it would get bloody cold. No, really cold.

Dr Terry Joyce, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute believes there is a 50% chance of this happening within the next 100 years. "The likelihood of having an abrupt change is increasing - global warming is moving us closer and closer to the brink" he warned.

(It was sobering stuff. Again, vitriolic thoughts about the world's leaders who continue to allow global warming to happen bombarded my brain, as the Atlantic continues to be bombarded by this fresh water.)

It's been cold recently, more so since the central heating has decided to pack up and the damned landlord has taken aeons to sort it. So, it was a case of watching this programme whilst huddled round my Zippo.

I'm relatively new to this town, so whilst I was on the playground today, picking up the kids, I got talking to this chap that I have begun to know. In the past, it has merely been a case of exchanging pleasantries. I was telling him about the central heating having shut down. Turns out, he'd seen Horizon last night as well.

"Knowing my luck" I said, " this forecasted ice age will hit us tonight before the landlord gets the boiler sorted."

"Oh no, I think it would take around 10 years to fully hit us. It wouldn't happen overnight."

Is he related to the postmistress? I'm beginning to get nagging doubts about this town.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Freelance Journalist. 2004 has seen pieces published in The Guardian and pieces also accepted by Jack magazine. More articles available at my site: http://www.articles.me.uk

 

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