The following is a front-page story from The Aspen Times – July 31, 2036.FIRE STORMS RAGEPlumes of smoke billowing from the Roaring Fork Valley converged with smoke from 1,000 Western fires yesterday, darkening the skies over Aspen for the third week in a row as fire storms roared across Colorado.”These fires are bigger than anything in recorded history,” said a Forest Service spokesman. “The only thing comparable is the seventh level of hell.”Colorado residents were again advised to remain indoors, utilizing domestic air filter systems and listening for evacuation warnings. Food and water rations are expected from FEMA sometime next year, along with a shipment of fireproof port-a-potties.Given the vast stands of dead timber in the forests because of a widespread beetle infestation that claimed a 90 percent mortality rate among conifer forests, the fires have been classified as uncontrollable.”It’s because of them damned bugs,” charged a federal resource manager. “And you can blame the enviros, too. If the stupid trees had been clear-cut, we wouldn’t have any forests to burn.”Scientists, however, claim that nature is only a bit player in this conflagration. “These fires and the 30-year drought that preceded them are attributable to global climate change,” said a climatologist at a recent hearing. “It’s the direct result of unbridled industrial development.””Nonsense!” jeered a Bush administration spokesman. “It’s not our fault that glaciers have disappeared, that the polar ice caps have melted, that rising oceans have flooded coastlines on every continent. Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by white liberals bent on egalitarian aims.”Karl Rove, the 90-year-old adviser for the Jenna Bush administration, the fifth consecutive Bush administration since the last century, announced yesterday that terrorists are responsible for the erratic cycles that now imperil the human race.”Once we have bombed the last strongholds of resistance in Crestone and Sedona,” drooled Rove, “everything will be fine. Meanwhile, it’s time we thanked the power elite who have sacrificed the health and livelihoods of the working poor to keep America strong. That’s what American democracy is all about.”In Aspen, a study on global warming issued in July 2006 revealed that skiing would end by 2100. Due to inaction from industry and government, and coupled with the rapid acceleration of greenhouse emissions by the developing world, global warming rates unexpectedly tripled. The last day of skiing in Aspen was mourned on a scorching day last February when thousands gathered on Highlands Bowl for a final ski run down a narrow swath of slush. “I can’t believe it’s over,” said a Ski Company spokesman. “But life goes on. Next week we’re installing an alpine slide and a water park.”As fire storms sweep across the West, relocation camps are overflowing with refugees who once reveled in mountain splendor. Their once glamorous lifestyle has literally been reduced to ashes.”We don’t know where to place all these people,” shrugged a FEMA coordinator. “Our only hope is that Canada agrees to open their border. We understand that Whistler Mountain is looking for housekeepers and bus drivers.”Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays.
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