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Not the Center of the World


Towards the end of February a startling fact was reported on the news. January, it turns out, had been the fourth warmest month in the history of the world. How can that be, everyone east of the Mississippi must have gasped?

We had been living with snow and ice up to our ears, and for weeks the thermometer hadn’t risen about 32 F. Of course, the climate change skeptics were gloating that here was the proof that climate change was a myth.

But as the article I read in the New York Times reminded us (Feb. 20, “Freezing January for Easterners Was Not Felt Round the World,” the United States is not the largest country on the planet. In fact, it occupies only 2 percent of the landmass in the world. Add in the fact that the bitter cold held sway mostly in the eastern half of the country, and we’re down to 1 percent. Australia, parts of Africa, South America and Asia were warmer than usual in January. When you’re doing averages, everybody counts.

As a French professor told me in college after I had censured the morals of Madame Bovary, “Le Kansas n’est pas le centre du monde.” Neither is the United States.

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