Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Quarantine Summer
by Rebecca Birch

Calling Time on Candy
by Mark Patrick Lynch

Revenge in Shanty Town
by Seth W. Kennedy

A Boy’s Apocalypse
by Eric Del Carlo

How to Be a Foreigner
by Karen Heuler

Could They But Speak
by David Steffen

Bob’s Day Out
by Mark Bondurant

Everybody Comes to Rick’s
by Tim McDaniel

Equations in the Mirror
by Therese Arkenberg

by R.W. Warwick


If We Find ET What Will ET Be?
by J. Richard Jacobs

Regarding Fermi’s Paradox
by Eric M. Jones




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips





It’s a Warm, Warm, Warm,

Warm World

DAWN IS BREAKING. OUTSIDE my window, a warm front is barreling through. There’s thunder, lightning, and heavy rain. After the front passes, in a few hours, it is predicted to become clear, sunny and very hot. In the 90s F. It is going to remain sultry until later tomorrow when a cold front approaches. Then another round of thunder, lightning, strong winds, and possibly even tornadic activity. The temperatures are expected to plummet like King Kong from atop the Empire State Building. By Friday, we are supposed to be a good ten degrees below normal. All of this within about 48 hours. In the Northeast. In mid-September. Welcome to the world of global warming.

Wild weather swings like this are expected to become very commonplace in the not too distant future, all year long. It is part of the transitional phase to a warmer planet. The result will be a tropical climate from Brazil to Miami, up the I-95 corridor to Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, and New Brunswick. Snow birds may be squealing with delight over the prospect of no longer having to migrate to Florida for the winter months, but they don’t realize that much of the flora and fauna can’t migrate with them, nor should. They depend upon a four season ecosystem for survival. And global warming is happening too fast for them to adapt. So they won’t. They’ll die off and be replaced by other opportunistic species of plants and animals. Like fire ants. Like Africanized bees. Like dengue fever. Like malaria.

Like, oh joy.

According to the CDC, “With more than one-third of the world’s population living in areas at risk for transmission, dengue infection is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. As many as 100 million people are infected mosquitoyearly.” Dengue rarely occurs in the continental United States because, before global warming this country wasn’t even subtropical. Imagine the dengue virus set loose in the Northeast’s major population centers.

According to a recent study by Texas A&M University, “Red and black imported fire ants ... are native to South America. They were accidentally introduced into the U.S. around the 1930s ... and have been spreading ... north, west and south. They now infest more than the eastern two-thirds of Texas. They have spread west to eastern New Mexico. Their northward spread has reached the middle of Oklahoma ... with human assistance they have begun to infest parts of California.” No reason to expect that as the East Coast becomes abundant with palm trees and beach resorts the little buggers won’t take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too.

West Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes, had been thought to be nearly eradicated. But in the summer of 2012, over 400 people contracted the disease in Dallas, and 19 of them died. Epidemiologists are convinced that the resurgence is another product of climate change. So if dengue doesn’t get you, my global warmed friends, or fire ants, West Nile might.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has warned that global warming may affect our health in more ways than just the spread of disease and harmful insects. Our entire food supply may be threatened, they point out. Milk yields, for one, may decline because of high temperatures and drought-related stress on dairy cows. (The dairy industry, by the way, is the largest single segment of New York State’s agriculture.) Regions of the world that now depend on rain-fed agriculture may require costly irrigation. Shifting seasonal rainfall patterns and more severe precipitation events may delay planting and harvesting. Extreme ocean temperatures and ocean acidification also place coral reefs at risk. Reefs are the foundations of many of the world’s fisheries. So if we don’t get sick, we’ll starve.

Here in Upstate New York we are reading about weather-related farming disasters much more than we used to. Such as last year’s wild weather that decimated the 2012 apple crop. New York State is the country’s second-largest apple producer. The 2012 harvest was about 14 million bushels, half of what it usually is. Not since 1945 has New York seen such a reduced crop due to weather. The 2010 apple crop was also down five percent to 1.30 billion pounds. Fortunately for the current year, apple farmers expect a bumper yield, but this only goes to show how sensitive the ecosystem is around here and how global warming would devastate it.

Fishing is another example. New York State salmon are some of the largest and most eagerly sought gamefish found in northeastern freshwaters. According to a recent study by the National Resources Defense Council, global warming is likely to spur the disappearance of trout and salmon from as much as 18 to 38 percent of their current habitat by the year 2090. Habitat loss for individual species of fish, the study contends, could be as high as 42 percent by 2090 if emissions of heat-trapping pollution such as carbon dioxide are not reduced. Why? Cold water fish such as trout and salmon thrive in streams with temperatures of 50 F. to 65 F., the study explains. In many areas, the fish are already living at the upper end of their thermal range. Even modest warming could render habitat streams uninhabitable.

And if that isn’t enough to shake you out of your carbon footprints, a warming of the local climate could affect not only our health, not only our food supply, but even our national pastime. Not TV. Baseball. The ash used for baseball bats, specifically. Some sports-minded scientists say that as temperatures rise, the ash wood that now makes an ideally dense but flexible bat might turn softer because of a longer growing season. Other scientists contend that a warmer climate could also spur the destructive invasion of the emerald ash borer by stressing the trees and accelerating the reproduction cycle of the beetle. An attack of the ash tree population from these two fronts could drive the familiar “Play ball!” cry of the umpire into distant memory.

Admittedly, I heart New York. But after global warming does its thing, I may no longer heart New York as much.

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Jack Vance