One of the few things I miss about television since I gave up my set was watching R. Lee Ermry make watermelons explode on The History Channel. On his “Mail Call” series and a number of special programs, the Gunnery Sgt.’s favorite pastime is trying out all sorts of firearms from flintlocks to the latest rifles being evaluated as possible replacements for the M16. And his favorite target is the watermelon. Gunny just loves to make watermelons explode. So do I.
But you don’t have to shoot watermelons to make them explode. I’m talking here of a different kind of watermelon than the variety that are the old Marine’s victims of choice. My target is the environmentalist watermelon – green on the outside and pink on the inside. Yes sir, those watermelons are even more fun when their heads explode than the garden variety. There are several ways to make them go “splat.” If you’re going to a New Year’s Eve party tonight, single out a watermelon and go to work on him. He should be easy to find. He will be loudly proclaiming the superiority of his Toyota Prius over every other car on the road.
Solar Power – Tell a melon that nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is used to treat titanium solar panels, may be 17,000 times worse than carbon dioxide in its contribution to global warming. Remember, you don’t have to believe in human-induced global warming. What’s important here is that he does. If that doesn’t make his head explode, inform him that the Kyoto Protocol, which is supposed to provide regulations for greenhouse gases, doesn’t say squat about protecting the environment from NF3. Splat!
Wind Power – Make a watermelon’s head explode with a few facts about wind power. The rotating blades on the big turbines are a threat to birds and bats. Between 10,000 and 40,000 birds may be killed each year at wind farms across the country – about 80% of which are songbirds, and 10% may be birds of prey, including federally-protected golden eagles, red-tail hawks and various species of other raptors. Bats are also subject to high mortality at wind farms frequently at considerably higher rates than birds.
With the big turbines, as with all man-made devices, FAIL is always an option:
Wind turbines also occasionally throw chunks of ice. If a watermelon tells you that is a myth, tell him about the four-hour ice storm this community was subjected to in October, no thanks to a wind turbine.
If all that isn’t enough to splatter the melon, tell him about Wind Turbine Syndrome. Remember, whether you believe that there are health and psychological effects from wind turbines doesn’t matter. It’s the watermelon’s belief system that causes the explosion and determines how far the chunks will fly.
Biomass Power – If your watermelon is a biomass freak, inform him that he would need 965 square miles of prime Iowa farmland to produce as much electricity from biomass as from a single nuclear power plant.
Hydroelectric Power – Say, “Sorry, melon man.” Man-made reservoirs convert CO2 in the atmosphere into methane. What’s wrong with that? Plenty. Methane’s effect on global warming (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) is 21 times stronger than that of carbon dioxide.
Hydrogen Power – Tell the watermelon that the process for extracting hydrogen may cause more pollution than gasoline-powered cars, because a great deal of energy is required to extract it from the molecules of water or hydrocarbons that bind the miracle gas. If that doesn’t make his head explode, tell him your source is Mother Jones magazine.
Hybrid Power – Save the best for last to use on Mr. Melonhead. Casually inform him that his vaunted Prius may get good gas mileage, but it leaves a substantial carbon footprint. The delicious irony is that it takes a lot of energy and icky chemicals to build hybrid vehicles. Recent research indicates that the process is more environmentally unfriendly than manufacturing conventional cars, vans and trucks. After you’ve shown him how his Prius isn’t saving the planet as much as he thought, get out of the way quickly to avoid being splattered with watermelon debris.
Enjoy the party, and have a happy fossil-fueled New Year!