Where El Nino is concerned, the forecast is hazy

December 07, 1997|By Dave Barry | Dave Barry,Knight-Ridder News Service

WHAT IS EL NINO? Will it cause massive climatic changes? Will it ultimately threaten the very survival of humanity? Does it contain fat?

These are just some of the alarming questions that are raised by the phenomenon of El Nino, which in recent months has been blamed for virtually everything abnormal that is happening in the world, including the singing group Hanson.

To help you understand why you need to become alarmed about El Nino, let's take a moment here to review how the Earth's weather works:

Scientists who study weather -- who are called "meteorologists," to distinguish them from scientists who study meteors, who are called "scientists who study meteors" -- tell us that weather is caused by the atmosphere, which is a gaseous mixture containing oxygen, nitrogen, monosodium glutamate and radio waves.

Moisture gets into the atmosphere from the oceans by a process called "evaporation," which is caused by whales coming to the surface and blowing their noses, which, because of an evolutionary mistake, are located on top of the whales' heads.

After these warm, moist air masses are formed over the ocean, they get pushed eastward by the "jet stream," which is a high-altitude, fast-moving "river of air" constructed in 1958 by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of a federal project intended to prevent commercial airplane flights from being on time.

When a warm, moist air mass reaches land, it proceeds to a major metropolitan area, where it is struck by radar beams sent out by TV weather forecasters, which cause the evaporated moisture to turn into rain and "sleet," which is actually little frozen pieces of whale snot.

So we see that the true cause of bad weather, contrary to what they have been claiming all these years, is TV weather forecasters, who have also single-handedly destroyed the ozone layer via overuse of hair spray.

So where does El Nino come into this picture?

We cannot answer that question with certainty until we have had a couple more beers.

But we do know that "El Nino" is a Spanish name, meaning, literally, "The Little Neen." It refers to a seasonal warming of the Pacific Ocean, which is critical to the Earth's fragile ecosystem because it contains more than 80 percent of our dwindling supply of anchovies.

To understand the significance of this warming effect, take a few moments now to conduct the following scientific experiment in your bathroom. First, fill your bathtub with water and note the temperature. Now, mix in these ingredients: 25 pounds of salt, to simulate the ocean's salinity; one 12-ounce can of Bumble Bee brand chunk light tuna, to simulate the ocean's marine life; and one plastic Ken doll wearing a dark suit, to simulate Vice President Gore.

Now, using a standard household blowtorch, gradually heat the water while swishing it around the tub in a counterclockwise direction.

Do you see what's happening? That's correct: A big old ugly greasy wad of hair has broken loose from the drain and is bobbing toward you like a hostile mutant marine tarantula. This is exactly what is happening in the Pacific Ocean, except that the hair wad is more than 1 million times larger.

The only thing comparable to it on land is Donald Trump.

So we can see why El Nino has the scientific community so alarmed. The question is, what is causing it? What widespread phenomenon has occurred lately that would make a major ocean suddenly start warming up? The answer, according to a recent scientific study by the Institute of Scientists Who Have Done Studies Recently, is: espresso machines. A few years ago, you hardly ever saw these machines; now they're showing up in Dairy Queens. These are not energy-efficient devices. For every ounce of actual espresso they produce, they release enough steam into the atmosphere to meet the energy needs of Finland for a year.

This is not to say that espresso is the sole cause of El Nino. Other recent trends that probably play a part are cigar smoking, line dancing, nostril rings and those incomprehensible commercials for something called "Lucent." We need to ban all of these things immediately, and as a precautionary measure we should also evacuate the West Coast as far inland as Nebraska. If you care at all about the environment, you will write to your congresshuman and demand that something be done immediately. And then you will clean your bathtub.

Pub Date: 12/07/97

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