Global Warming: Boo, Hiss

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, March 30, 2008

THE LIBERAL MEDIA is often accused of exaggerating the effects of global warning in order to advance our own selfish, narrow-minded agenda of limiting the growth of big business, restricting free enterprise, saving the planet, etc.

And yet, we journalists have a duty to the truth. And so it is at the risk of being unfairly attacked once again that I feel I must call your attention to a recent news story in USA Today. I'm quoting it verbatim:

"As climate change warms the nation, giant Burmese pythons could colonize one-third of the USA, from San Francisco across the Southwest, Texas and the South and up north along the Virginia coast, according to U.S. Geological Survey maps released Wednesday. The pythons can be 20 feet long and 250 pounds. They are highly adaptable to new environments."

The article didn't actually say it, but I am guessing that another term for "new environments" are "our sewers."

So, let us try to calmly reevaluate, in a bipartisan fashion, the threat of global warming in light of this new scientific information. On the one hand, if the liberal-environmentalist cabal is wrong about this global ecological issue, then our society might unnecessarily spend money to control the release of greenhouse gases and other environmental pollutants. On the other hand, if it is right about this issue, 250-pound snakes will be popping out of our toilets and eating our buttocks (emphasis mine).

Now, I know what all you environmental conservatives are thinking. You are thinking that I am being alarmist. So, in an effort to take a fair and balanced view of this subject, I did some research on Burmese pythons. It turns out that there is quite another side to this story, thank you very much. As it happens, Burmese python skin makes highly prized leather. The quality of American watchbands might improve dramatically.

That was all I could find. But, to be as thorough as possible, I telephoned Gordon Rodda, a zoologist at the Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado. Gordon is not only an expert in invasive reptiles, specifically snakes, but was the lead scientist on the Burmese python study.

Me: For the benefit of environmental conservatives, can you tell us the upside of the inevitable Burmese python invasion of North America?

Gordon: The upside?

Me: Yes, please make some lemonade. For example, will these snakes actually eat people?

Gordon: Almost never. There is only one reported case in China, and I'm not sure it's reliable.

Me: Excellent! So we don't have to worry about them biting our butts.

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