Our night city desk expended an impressive quantity of energy Sunday night in trying to make sure whether the 106-degree temperature recorded here on July 20, 1930, was the hottest day in our history or merely tied with some other day for the record.
At one point in the research, a cynic commented, "Frankly, I doubt whether many people would really notice the difference between 105 degrees and 106 degrees."
He may be right about one degree, but several degrees can certainly mean the difference between comfort and discomfort. A person who reaches for a sweater at 67 degrees can feel uncomfortably warn at 73.
Scientists disagree about whether the earth is getting warmer or colder, and many now believe there are cycles within cycles; on a short-term basis the temperature is moving this way, but the trend for the longer term is in the other direction. The one thing they all agree on is that man engages in many activities that affect global temperature, and that a change of only a few degrees can have vast consequences for our environment, and even our survival.
Somehow it seems fitting to me that through his existence on earth man gradually uses up its natural resources and upsets it ecological balances. Any other outcome would imply that man can remain on earth forever and, in effect, approach immortlity.
So I am not among the handwringers who worry about an approaching doomsday.
I am a conservationist because it is sinful to waste God's bounty. But I don't expect our natural resources to last indefinitely, and I refuse to be alarmed by visions of gloom and doom.
When it's time for man to disappear or for the entire earth to disappear, it will happen. Whether we have one year or 5 billion years in which to prepare when the end comes we won't be ready for it or in a position to do anything about it.
So my major concerns on a day like this are: Will I go somewhere after I leave this earth? If so, is the temperature there above or below 106?