Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Weighty issues
Do you have enough to worry about? Do you sometimes worry that you're not worried about the right things? If you watch the news you are probably already worried about employment insecurity, foreign terrorists, the War on Christmas, e-coli in your fast food, Nicole Ritchie's weight, global warming, and carnivorous sponges. But what about those threats that the news isn't reporting? Fortunately, I'm here to fill you in on them.

The theory of catastrophic pole shift is an unorthodox geological theory that claims many mysteries of the past, such as the sinking of Atlantis, the extinction of the mammoths, and the flood of Noah, can all be explained by a periodic slipping of the Earth's crust. The most common version of the theory, first published by Hugh Auchincloss Brown and later popularized by Charles Hapgood, states that the weight of ice accumulating at the poles periodically destabilizes the Earth's rotational balance, causing the Earth's outer crust to slip over the Earth's core moving the ice-heavy poles closer to the equator. Since the ice melts in the course of this movement, the total movement is usually less than ninety degrees, but is accompanied by catastrophic floods and massive changes in the distribution of land, water, and ice across the Earth's surface. After the last polar shift, the Atlanteans built pyramids all over the world as a crystal clear warning that we should worry about the poles.

Since the 1960s, a number of writers have warned about this danger. It would seem that global warming has temporarily saved us from this problem by reducing the mass of ice growing at the poles. But the problem is not ice in and of itself; it is weight which is not distributed in a balanced manner at the equator.

Earlier this fall, the United States gained its three-hundred-millionth inhabitant. Each one of those three-hundred-million weighs more than their counterparts in previous American history. The growing obesity of the average American is no longer merely a public health problem, it is a threat to the physical stability of the planet. As this mass of fat Americans builds up in the middle latitudes, the centrifugal force of our spinning Earth will cause the United States to slip toward the equator. Most of Argentina will slip below the Antarctic circle. On the other side of the Earth, India will move into the latitude currently inhabited by Central Siberia. That is, unless the Indians fight back by putting on some weight.

The complacent among us might think that this is nothing to worry about. All we need to do is teach the Indians about super-sizing and the problem will be solved. But it's not that simple. What if the Indians put on too much weight? Then they slip towards the equator and we move up where Canada is. Miami ends up where Winnipeg is and trades hurricanes for Arctic blizzards.* The East-West struggle of the twenty-first century might not be Harrington's war of civilizations, it be the war of diets. American ingenuity will serve us well in the coming battle. If the Indians start to look a little plump, the patriotic American food industry can roll out a new irresistible cookie crammed with saturated fat and sugar to re-establish the balance of powers.

This danger is almost as dire as that posed by the balloonosphere, but we're up to the challenge.

* A little known law of catastrophism states that no matter what happens, South Florida gets wind. Even if we should manage to develop totally perfect weather control, South Florida will still have the Cuban exile community and Rush Limbaugh to blow hard over them.

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