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Paul Collins is one of my favorite authors; he’s got 5 books out (Banvard’s Folly, a collection of essays on forgotten folks of history, like the guy who invented the Concord grape, or the titular Banvard, who created a gigantic rolling mural of the Mississippi Riverbanks; Sixpence House, a longer book about buying a house in Hay-On-Wye, the UK town known for its overabundance of bookstores; Not Even Wrong, a book about autism through history as well as coping with his son’s own recently diagnosed autism, The Trouble With Tom about Thomas Paine‘s corpse, and The Book Of William about Shakespeare’s First Folio), and he’s also the editor of the CollinsLibrary, a McSweeney’s imprint devoted to bringing back into print obscure but interesting books, mainly from the turn of the century and thereabouts. (The most popular is probably English As She Is Spoke, known as the worst phrasebook in the world.)
So, anyway, through his blog, he posted a link to an article he wrote for the Village Voice, Polar Eclipse. Like with the bulk of his work, it’s a look at something just sort of weird in history (and tying it back to the present) — in this case, the mid-1940s desire to fight off the next Ice Age by melting the polar ice caps. (And, you know, getting at the mineral deposits locked beneath the Antarctic Ice couldn’t be so bad, either…) And, hey, since we’ve just figured out how to make the atomic bomb, why don’t we put those to use there, too?
Luckily, they decided against doing this, but it’s still pretty interesting that it was an actual thing folks were contemplating and doing journallistic writeups about it (the essay includes an illustration from a 1946 Mechanix Illustrated article intended to sell the average American on the idea). It’s just kind of funny, looking back, that for a while, we actually wanted climate change. But, of course, who WOULDN’T want fresh oranges from New York?