Saturday, December 23, 2006

Earthquakes for Christmas: Global warming comes to Berkeley

Prologue: Holy Freaking Cow! Even as I'm typing this we just had another major earthquake! Hide the crockery! Dive under the tables! This is getting SERIOUS!

During the historic UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1964, I participated in similar FSM demonstrations at UCLA but it wasn't the same. There were only 12 of us. Sigh. So I was really pleased with myself when I moved to Berkeley in 1966. And I've been here for the last 40 years.

I just LOVE Berkeley. We got a ton of Nobel laureates, really good movie theaters that show meaningful films, only 10% of us voted for Schwarzenegger and almost nobody voted for Bush.

We also have the Hayward earthquake fault running right through the middle of Berkeley, only ten blocks from my house. And after 40 years of living right next to a major fault line, you don't have to win the Nobel Prize to know that earthquakes only occur during two seasons a year -- in the spring and in the fall.

"Why is that, Professor Jane?" you might ask. Let me get out my blackboard and chalk.

"Earthquakes are most common in Berkeley when there are sharp contrasts in weather," I said, expounding the famous Stillwater Theory of Earthquake Seasons. "When the nights are cold and the days are hot, the earth expands and contracts too rapidly, too much pressure builds up and Voila! We gots earthquakes. But this rapid expansion and contraction only happens in the spring and in the fall. Earthquakes, like strawberries and NFL games, have their own seasons."

"So why have we just experienced two rather large earthquakes in December, fool? Your theory is WRONG!"

Nope. My theory is still right. Why? Because, amazing as this may seem, the local earthquake seasons have actually changed. This is the warmest holiday season Berkeley has ever experienced. Sure, the nights are still cold but in the daytime I bike around town in my shirtsleeves. This extreme weather contrast in the middle of winter is highly unusual. Usually it's just cold during the day followed by cold during the night.

Earthquakes for Christmas? Global warming is here!

PS: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Hajj, Happy Buddha's Enlightenment, Happy whatever Hindus do in December, Happy Solstice. And if the world's religious leaders don't put their feet down about killing and war RIGHT NOW, the only religion we're gonna have left in a few short years is gonna be animism practiced in fallout shelters, huts and caves.