Nature strikes back.
Or maybe you dismiss the timing and placing of these two local stories as mere coincidence:
On Sunday, S.C. Department of Natural Resources officers captured — and killed — a 9-foot alligator spotted on the beach at the Isle of Palms.
On Tuesday, a shark bit a man swimming — at the Isle of Palms.
No, alligators and sharks aren’t known to be allies.
Still, they share increasing human-inflicted peril as our two-legged kind continues to proliferate, crowding out other species.
And we do still share our Atlantic Ocean swimming pool with plenty of sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, crabs and other dangerous sea creatures — and occasionally even a gator or two.
Yet what if you were at risk of being bitten by a shark without even intentionally venturing into the briny deep?
What if, as in the Sy-Fy Channel’s summer hit “Sharknado,” climate change suddenly extended sharks’ reach to victims who didn’t plan on getting wet?
Early in that TV movie, as a freakishly powerful storm closes in on the Los Angeles area, a TV newswoman reports, “Widespread flooding is expected, and experts are saying global warming is the reason for this unprecedented event.”
Also unprecedented: a series of tornadoes, spawned by that mega-storm, hurling angry sharks into those rising floodwaters.
If you were hurled inland by a tornado, you’d be angry too.
Of course, you need not watch provocative — and prophetic — films to see rising natural menaces from animals and weather.
Warming-sparked northern migrations have brought us many more armadillos, tarpon and manatees, critters that previously were rarely seen in these parts.
And though some of Charleston Mayor Joe Riley’s critics persist in blaming him for frequent flooding of downtown streets, keep in mind that sea levels have risen at 0.04 to 0.1 inches per year since 1990, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hey, when you’ve been mayor of a coastal city for more than 37 years, just a small annual boost in sea level can add up. Plus, after a decade or so of drought across our state, we’ve endured heavy rainfall over the past few months — including Wednesday, when a 1:30 p.m. Mount Pleasant deluge re-confirmed just how suddenly the climate can change.
Our recent high precipitation rate has been accompanied by a high mosquito reproduction rate.
Frogs also have made a remarkable comeback in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, many of those hop-along amphibians’ flattened carcasses now litter my street — another grim reminder of mankind’s cruel toll on wildlife.
Fortunately, though, judging from my yard’s resurgence of the roly-poly, aka the pill-bug, that cute crawler appears relatively safe from motor vehicles.
Back to homo sapiens:
We remain our own worst enemies.
Sure, “Sharknado” is scary.
“World War Z,” however, is downright terrifying.
Early in that summer cinematic blockbuster, another TV news broadcast cites climate change as a possible factor fueling a devastating outbreak of not twister-transported sharks, but walking-dead zombies.
No, not the zombie-like folks foolishly fixated on little screens of electronic devices as they stride — or drive — ahead without looking where they’re going.
These are big-screen zombies whose ranks inexorably expand with the addition of every person they bite.
Proceed with caution
OK, so that’s a bit far-fetched. And United Nations specialist Gerry Lane, played with sleep-walking apathy by Brad Pitt, is a bit too slow with his anti-zombie strategy to save Philadelphia, Rome and Moscow.
But in “Sharknado,” aptly named surfer/beach-bar proprietor “Fin” Shepherd casts an instructive line transcending the calamitous convergence of sharks and tornadoes.
Played with cool-guy verve by Ian Ziering (rich-kid-who-grows-a-social-conscience Steve Sanders on “Beverly Hills 90210”), Fin makes this urgent, practical appeal as the ravenous-fish storm intensifies:
“We can’t just wait here for sharks to rain down on us.”
So watch out for sharks, gators, snakes, crabs, skeeters, bees, no-see-ums, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, emotionally unstable cats and other natural hazards.
And try not to run over frogs.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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