Rob Beschizza reported that tourists were flocking to Death Valley this past weekend in hopes of experiencing the highest temperature on record. This video (here's a transcript), posted by Reuters, captures some of those tourists snapping smiling selfies and posing for photos by the thermostat sign that's registering mind-and-body melting temperatures of 126, 127, 128 degrees Fahrenheit—one tourist even exclaims that this is "super exciting!" For me, this video is truly the best (and worst) example of that "dog sitting in a room filled with flames saying this is fine" meme come to life.
The real hero of this video, though, is the one person bringing a voice of reason to this spectacle. In the video, they're clad head to toe in light-colored clothing, and carry signs that read "Happy Death Day" and "This Is The Climate Emergency." They explain:
"The fact that people are coming out here to celebrate this, the park service is giddy, people are excited about tomorrow. It's not a milestone! I'm calling it Happy Death Day, because…okay, it's a milestone tomorrow, but then next year it's gonna be another milestone, in 10 years, 20 years it's gonna be 140 here. What are we celebrating?"
This teller of harsh truths is named Tom Comitta, an artist, a writer of fiction and poetry, and also a composer, performance artist, and videographer. Tom's new book, published earlier this year, is called "The Nature Book." Comitta's website describes the project:
The Nature Book, "a magnum opus" in the words of Kirkus Reviews (starred review), collages nature descriptions from 300 canonical novels into a single novel. With the environmental background brought to the fore, human characters and objects disappear, giving center stage to the animals, landscapes, and weather patterns that have buttressed human drama since the beginning of the novel form.
The 87,000-word book tells a continuous story but also acts as an archive of how authors perceive and distort nature, covering the gamut of natural settings: all four seasons, oceans, islands, jungles, outer space, grasslands, mountain ranges, and deserts.