The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee...

WHAT TIMING!

February 06, 1991|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

WHAT TIMING! The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on a Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Washington this week to consider how to stop "global warming."

Yesterday, at a party around the swimming pool at their headquarters hotel, they passed a resolution that concluded of global warming, "Yeaaaa!"

I assume you know I just made that up. I wouldn't spend five minutes of my precious time covering that conference. These are people who can't tell you with certainty whether to put the liner in your raincoat a week from Friday. Yet they say with assurance, "the earth's average temperature will rise by 1 degree by the year 2025 and 6 degrees by 2099."

They also say this is bad news. I say, any phenomenon that produces a Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 like we've just had deserves to be applauded. Can't we make this a regular occurrence?

If we can, a few more years of this and they'll have to rewrite James Russell Lowell. What is so rare as a day in February?/Then, if ever, come perfect days.

Actually, as a statistician once pointed out to me, the answer to Lowell's real question of "what is so rare as a day in June"? is "a day in September, April or November occurs with the same frequency as a day in June, and thus is exactly as rare. A day in February is rarer still. However, a day in June is rarer than a day in January, March, May July, August, October or December."

A poet I know said that was baloney. Lowell meant "rare" not in the sense of likelihood of occurrence but of preciousness. Well, yes, but in that case, too, a day in February like the ones we've just had is rarer by far than an identical day in June.

Scientists at the Climate Change convention actually disagree about how things will be in the future. Some say warmer enough to produce substantial changes in life on Earth, some say warmer but not that warm. All agree, however, that at some point warming will cause the sea level to rise. That could lead to the permanent flooding of low-lying coastal areas. Moderate sea-level rise could lead, for instance, to the disappearance of the Eastern Shore. This would be a disaster. The scientists voted 122-8 against a resolution, proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who ran over from the governors' conference, endorsing sea-level rise.

That, too, is of course, a joke. Schaefer has two homes and a home site that would disappear if the Atlantic Ocean rose a couple of feet.

However, he is pretty mad at the Eastern Shore. He made that clear in a barnyard epithet describing it recently. He's mad because most of the shore voted against him in his bid for re-election last year. People on the shore are angry in return because of his description of it in that and in other recent remarks.

I know a way this can all turn out swell for Schaefer and for the folks on the shore.

Saturday: Statehood for "Trans-Choptankia."

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