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TO:                 Dean of Extraterrestrial Studies, Galactic University

FROM:           Undercover Agent, Planet Earth

SUBJECT:      Native Customs and Rituals

Honored Superior:

The vast emptiness of space, coupled with technical difficulties and “sunspot” activity affecting dozens of stars between your system and the one I am occupying, have delayed by ten years (this system’s quaint designation for solar cycles) my response to your queries concerning this planet’s obsession with climate cycles.

It is my duty to inform you of a massive religious convocation that takes place on this planet every year. Perhaps the most notable event was almost exactly ten years ago in a principality known as Copen-Hagen, focusing on variations of the degree of molecular activity in the atmosphere of this place.

They refer to this activity as “heat,” sometimes measured in terms of what they call “temperature.” They call these variations “cooling” or “warming,” depending on whether the molecular activity seems to be decreasing or increasing, respectively.

The matter has become quite divisive, although the essential facts seem to be conceded by all. The history of this planet, like all other planets in our galaxy that have atmospheres, has been marked by rather wide cyclical variation, though the extent of that variation might be considered trivial, compared to some of the more extreme conditions out on the farthest edge of the galaxy.

In any event, a large faction seems to be convinced that the “warming” trend is severe enough to cause dire consequences in the next 20 or 30 years, while yet another faction, variously known as “skeptics,” “deniers,” or “flat-earthers,” take the matter much less seriously, some going so far as to reject the proposition altogether.

Most, however, seem to accept that indeed there has been a warming trend. The disagreement mostly comes from the question whether this species has substantially contributed to it, and whether it can be slowed or even reversed. It’s alarming how heated [so to speak] these disagreements can become.

Adding to the confusion is the number of possible derivations of the name of the principality in which they are meeting. I have identified three possible sources for the name, and can posit quite cogent reasons for the selection of this place they call Copen-Hagen, based on any one of them.

The first is an odd drug some of them are addicted to, sold in a small round container and administered by placing a tiny quantity in the cheek, or between the lower lip and the gum. Sometimes known as “snuff,” or “snoose,” this substance is variously thought to make the user either more manly or totally gross. The latter name for the stuff may be the origin of the phrase, “All the snoose that’s fit to spit.”

The second possibility is a particular variety of a dairy product they call “ice-cream,” and some appear to be as addicted to it as others are to the tobacco product. It has the added disadvantage of contributing to morbid weight gain in many of the natives, and a tendency to sit in circles beating on the floor and chanting solemnly, “Hagen-DAZ, Hagen-DAZ, Hagen-DAZ!”

The third possibility seems the remotest one, and yet perversely may in fact be the correct explanation. “Copen-Hagen” rhymes with “Volks-Wagen,” a peculiar little vehicle once much favored by a subset of a religious group called “hippies,” many of whom have grown up to be particularly sensitive to events like this “warming” they speak of.

From our galactic standpoint, of course, it makes little difference, their fate primarily being in their own hands, and it’s not for us to interfere. But I had a thought about the system you came from. As I recall, many of your compatriots had reached the conclusion that within a century or two all civilization would be destroyed by a sudden Ice Age, and scientists had been searching feverishly for a way to reverse the trend.

If I understand correctly, the largest contributing factor to the warming on this planet is the presence of what they call “greenhouse gases,” mostly carbon dioxide and methane. Do our scientists and engineers have the technology to open a space-time tunnel, rather like a black hole, between Earth and your home planet, and transfer the greenhouse gases from here to there?

If so, it seems like a win-win situation all around. Give it some thought. As an extra bonus, you could attach hoses to the tops of the legislative assembly buildings and get enough hot air to warm your planet twice over. Given the corpulence of most of those legislators, and their probable eating habits, they should also be an excellent source of methane.

Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain,

Your servant, currently residing in the physical presence of Dan Bosserman


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