The root of Earth's problem

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The Independent Online
Today we welcome back Mr Weatherman to answer all your questions about the current heatwave. All yours, Mr Weatherman!

Is this the hottest summer since ...?

Mr Weatherman writes: Yes.

Since when?

Mr Weatherman writes: Yes. This is the hottest summer since when.

And the driest?

Mr Weatherman writes: Oh, yes, it's certainly the driest. Since when.

Since records began?

Mr Weatherman writes: Oh, yes, certainly since 1870.

What happened in 1870?

Mr Weatherman writes: Well, in 1870, or just about then, Thomas Alva Edison patented the first records in the United States. There is a claim from the French that their inventor, Charles Cros, got there just before Edison, but his device, although ingenious, would never really have been practicable ...

What on earth has all this got to do with the weather?

Mr Weatherman writes: I'm sorry. It's this blasted heat. It's got to me. Sometimes I can't even concentrate on what I'm meant to be ... I'm sorry. You were saying?

Well, it occurred to me that if we aren't having rain here, we must be having it somewhere else. I mean, the water doesn't just disappear, does it? It keeps on falling. So where is it falling? And can we go there and get some? If we are having the driest summer since heaven knows when, somewhere else must be having the wettest summer since records began. Where is it?

Mr Weatherman writes: I don't know. I was only hired to answer questions about the British weather scene. I haven't done my homework on anywhere else.

Hmm. Well, getting back to our summer, one thing I've noticed is that although the fields are parched brown, the hedges in the countryside are as green as ever. Why is this? Is there more water in hedges or something?

Mr Weatherman writes: No. It's because things in fields are always cut short, but things in hedges are left to grow long.

Are you saying that tall plants need less water than short ones?

Mr Weatherman writes: Well, you would certainly think so to look at the landscape. All the brown stuff is short-cropped grass. All the green stuff is tall hedgerow stuff and trees. But there's a paradox involved here. If you leave a thing to grow tall, then its root system goes deep and it can reach down farther to where the damp earth is. If you cut it short, like a lawn, the roots get the message that they don't have to go deep, so they don't.

Do roots really get messages?

Mr Weatherman writes: Sure. And grass roots get the strangest messages of all. Think about it: we cut grass once a fortnight. No other plant gets cut anything like that often. A farmer might crop wheat twice a year. We crop grass twice a month. This makes grass paranoid. It doesn't know what is expected of it. Most lawns are, clinically speaking, manic depressive. We feed them and water them, and as soon as they show signs of growing, we cut them savagely! No wonder grass says to itself: "Stuff this for a lark!" That, I believe, is why so much grass has gone brown this summer. It's having a nervous breakdown.

Hmm. How long is this hot weather going to go on for?

Mr Weatherman writes: For a long time.

How long?

Mr Weatherman writes: A very long time.

Just how long is that?

Mr Weatherman writes: A very, very, very, very long time.

Till records end?

Mr Weatherman writes: Records have already ended.

Have they?

Mr Weatherman writes: Oh, yes. It's all tapes and CDs now.

No, come on, answer the question. Do you think this heatwave is just a cyclical thing or is global warming taking over?

Mr Weatherman writes: I think it's even worse than that.

Worse? What could be worse than global waming?

Mr Weatherman writes: The end of the world.

The end of the world? My God, you're not serious!

Mr Weatherman writes: Want to bet?

Is this a biblical end of the world? Is God punishing us for all our sins? Is he punishing the Japanese for their war crimes, and taking the rest of us with them?

Mr Weatherman writes: No - it seems more likely that James Lovelock's Gaia theory is being fulfilled. If you remember, Lovelock maintained that Earth was a self-healing organism and that if anything went wrong, the planet itself would deal with the trouble. Well, clearly, humanity is what is wrong with Earth. If human beings vanished, Earth could revert to its normal ecological evolution.

My God. Are you saying that ... ?

Mr Weatherman writes: Yes. This current outbreak of fiercely hot weather is nothing less than an attempt by Earth to rid itself of the human race.

(For a fact sheet on how to avoid the coming immolation, send an sae and a blank cheque to Mr Weatherman, c/o this column.)

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