The Worriers

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
I've tallied up a few times when we were worried.

Submitted: September 10, 2019

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Submitted: September 10, 2019

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Dogs worry. They’ll worry a bone for ages, trying to break it down into small bits so they can strip the last vestige of gristle from it. They might worry a shoe too, just for the pleasure of chewing hard on something. Given the opportunity, they might also worry sheep, and in the process they might even kill the sheep. Dogs have been shot for worrying sheep. But dogs aren’t like us, they don’t have mental worry, not about what’s around the corner like we humans do. We worry but for us, there’s two ways of worrying. There’s the mental side of worry, anguish if you like, worrying over issues, often about things we can’t even control. And then there’s those who cause worry. The people who have the unhappy knack of making us worry. The worriers. Here’s what I recall about worriers and what they’ve been doing to the rest of us.

In the early fifties, there was a kerfuffle in Christchurch on April Fools’ Day morning, when the townspeople woke to a 3ZB radio announcer broadcasting the news about Martians landing on Hagley Park. H G Wells’ book War of the Worlds narrated by Orson Welles, had been played on the radio, and his dulcet tones made listeners nervous about Martians.  So the fake news caused a panic as word spread quickly that Martians were in full-blown attack-mode. For his trouble, the radio announcer was given the boot.

Down under in Kiwiland, Russia’s Sputnik was easily visible, merrily circling Earth back in 1957. In our neighbourhood, come dark, everyone was outside wanting to catch a glimpse of it - but with some suspicion. American propaganda about the Russians had us very suspicious of everything Russian during those cold war years. So the rumour-mill stoked the fires of unease for the three weeks Sputnik was up there, we were sure that the Russians were up to something malicious, or at least when it came down it might pulverise all of us! Nothing happened.

Returned men had warned us about the devastation the A-bombs inflicted on Japan and we were already nervous with the USA and France testing their nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood. Amid it all, the Cuban Missile Crisis came along, compounding our worry about clouds of fallout drifting in our direction. Newspapers and radio were full of it, telling us how nuclear radioactive fallout will affect us. Kids of my generation had read Neville Shute’s book On the Beach and seen the movie of the same name in the late fifties, so we watched the Cuban crisis with trepidation and cursed the warmongering buggers for inventing nuclear weapons.

Come the seventies and there were indications of climate cooling! Temperatures were dipping, and the sages said we were heading into a new ice age! It didn’t happen, but someone somewhere had tried their best to scare us. At the same time, the cautious among us put a lump of coal on top of their television sets! No, nothing to do with keeping the telly warm, there was a new worry - cancer-causing radiation was oozing from our tellies and was going to kill us all! Someone figured out that a lump of coal on top of the set would suck up any loose radiation! Phew! And before the end of the decade, we were told we had to go back to Shack’s pony, because of peak oil was going to be reached by 1976, well it didn’t happen, so it was re-predicted as happening in 1995.

Coal and other fossil fuels were the culprits back in the eighties because they were causing Acid Rain! Nitrous oxide in the atmosphere mixed with rain were causing all the forests in Europe to brown off and die! If all our forests were going to die, there’d be no oxygen, life on Earth was doomed, we needed to stop using fossil fuels! We didn’t. About the same time, HIVAIDS became a serious threat to humanity, and we worried about kissing, spit, blood and other fluids. A concerned worrier formulated a table forecasting the rapid spread of the disease, using dodgy maths that by extrapolation, showed we’d all be dead within fifty years!

Scientist in Antarctica discovered the ozone layer had developed gaping holes. The worst of them was over Antarctica and serious predictions were made about the increased rates of skin cancer, especially in our neck of the woods. All manner of bad things were going to happen; sheep would become blind and human eyes would suffer cataracts. Scientists scrambled for answers. CFS’s from refrigeration and aerosol cans were found to be the culprit, so they were banned and the ozone layer is thought to have recovered. However Antarctic scientists have found the holes occur seasonally, disappearing during winter and returning in summer.

At the turn of the century there was another horror to live through. The Y2K bug. This computer bug wasn’t going to allow computers to flick over to 2000, the start of the new millennium. Worries around air transport, power grids, water supplies and nuclear arms tic-toks allowed tech whizz-kids to milk 600 billion dollars to bamboozle the bug. But computers not upgraded, managed to roll over with no issues. Another bunch of worriers stirred the cauldron that seems to be continually simmering these days. The anti-fluoride, anti-chlorine and anti-vaccination brigade wound up the rhetoric. They still swim against the tide of years of research and the need for public health to be cost-effective and inclusive. Where I lived for seven years in Tanzania there was a natural high fluoride content in the water. Since then my teeth have not needed treatment. For someone like me who recoils at the word dentist and likes to keep his wallet firmly closed, fluoride has done a great job. Chlorine kills bacteria effectively and like it or not, it provides safe water for billions around the world. Dirty water gave me a liver abscess so I was hanging onto my life by my fingernails for a while.  We currently have a measles outbreak here in Kiwiland. We had beaten the disease, but unvaccinated people have drifted into the country and away the disease goes again. The only way of stopping the spread of certain diseases is to vaccinate. The anti’s of this world simply put the rest of us at risk.

Researchers found that the Mayan calendar had come to an end, which happened to tie in with the planets of the solar system aligning in 2012. This was interpreted as a portent an end of the world as we knew it scenario to the worriers! The tides would rise, earthquakes would shake and all manner of bad things were predicted to happen. Anyway, nothing happened, the day came and went and we’re still here today.

I was interested in plants before I knew what botany was. I used collect pollen and sit it on the sticky tip of the stigma of a lily flower, later I collect the seed and planted it out to see what I’d bred. Our bread and butter forest tree is Pinus radiata, commonly called Monterey pine because it comes from the Monterey peninsula. There it’s a scrubby, windblown tree but by careful selection and pollinating selected trees with pollen from other selected trees, we’ve produced superior, well-formed trees. I’ve been involved with tree improvement for half of my forestry life. But the worriers say genetic modification is bad! They say herbicide resistant plants will result in more herbicide being used – no, weeds supress crop plants so control is necessary and unless you have cheap person-power, chemicals are the efficient option. All of our crops and domesticated animals have been improved by techniques of genetic modification and we couldn’t feed our population if we hadn’t done so.

 
   

Back up there in the fifth paragraph I mentioned fear of an impending ice age. In world temperature there’ve been peaks and troughs from year dot and in the seventies we went into a trough. Today, climate alarmists, worriers, are using the bottom of that trough as a starting point to show a warming trend. What else can happen when starting from the bottom of a trough? As well, the book-cookers have deleted the medieval warm period from climate alarmist charts to make computer models more plausible. James Hansen showed a graph of US wildfires from 1960 to 2017 showing a marked increase, but the full graph started in 1926 when there were four or five times as many fires as 2017.  C’mon, if you’ve got to doctor the records to prove your case… you probably don’t have a case.

Wikipedia lists no less than one hundred and fifty five predictions of Armageddon through history, among the worriers were Popes, priests, ministers, prophets, astrologers, mathematicians and a whole flock of quacks. Don’t believe in quackery. And hey worriers, stop scaring kids!

 

 


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