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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

Global warming grounds Punxsutawney Phil

On Gobbler's Knob this morning, Punxsutawney Phil endured his 121st rude awakening while being groped, as usual, in inappropriate places - all in the name of the groundhog's prognostication and the local economy's enrichment. Although Phil has seen his shadow more than 90 percent of the time during his storied past, much to the dismay of us Northerners, the betting money this year challenges that trend.

With weather forecasts calling for snow showers in Pennsylvania, nearly three-quarters of Las Vegas betters believe (at 13-4 odds) that Phil will not see his shadow and that spring is just around the corner. But alas, global warming will soon retire ole rodent Phil and devastate not only the lives of ordinary Punxsutawney citizens, but of Phil and his protectors ... including Bob Roberts (a name worth repeating) whose official title is "His Protector."

Once higher temperatures increase throughout the world, the cold weather season will abbreviate. As the winter calendar diminishes, Phil will need to adjust his timetable of six more weeks of potentially cold weather. The Groundhog Club's "Inner Circle," those gentlemen who wear top hats and bestow titles that belie reason upon each other, will advise Phil on how to adapt his predictions.

Phil might slice the 6-week extended cold weather timetable back to a month, and continue to decrease hiss options each subsequent year until February in Pennsylvania averages 60-degree daily temperatures. At that point, it would not matter whether or not the sun cast Phil's scary shadow. On the upside, though, Phil would improve his accuracy record, thus rivaling his distant cousin and fellow furry forecaster, Georgia's General Beau Lee, Ph.D. Cousin Lee claims a 94 percent accuracy record ... hardly a difficult task even for a rodent in a state that averages 44 degrees in February and 53 degrees in March.

On the down side, the demise of the world-famous Yankee groundhog would be the tipping point for both a local and national economic catastrophe. Every element of our GNP would suffer. One simply can review today's Groundhog Day schedule to realize how global warming would end most activities, thereby casting the nation into a rodent-like state - going down the hole.

Imagine the confusion in the local Punxsutawney unemployment office while bureaucrats attempt to match the expertise of the Inner Circle's members to new jobs. The conversation would sound something like this:

"Hello, we are recently unemployed because we did not heed Al Gore's warning about global warming. Can you assist us?" asks Treasurer and Head Hailmaker Keith Shields.

"What have you gentlemen done prior to this?" asks the bureaucrat.

Vice President and Chief Healthman Paul Johnston answers, "These two are Co-Handlers, but that one is a Cloud Builder while the other is a Fog Spinner."

"I thought you were all either butlers, waiters or funeral directors," replies the bureaucrat.

"Actually," interrupts the Big Flake Maker, "These two also work well together. He is the Stump Warden, and that's the Burrow Master. And this duo is the team of the Iceman and Storm Chaser."

Peering over his bifocals, the bureaucrat asks, "Why are those gentleman sitting way over there so far away from everyone?"

Sky Painter answers, "Everyone keeps them at some distance. He's the Plow Man, and he's the Big Windmaker."

For Phil's part, to survive the rodent would need another skill like playing chess. He would be reduced to a more demeaning setting, like appearing in sleeping pill commercials with Abe Lincoln. He would become sullen knowing that his inability to weather global warming single-handedly caused a great depression that rivaled the 1929 stock market crash.

For example, Vegas oddsmakers would no longer handle two-way action on bets covering Phil - other than to speculate if he might bite Lincoln. Toyota, the official car of Phil, sales would fall behind GM, Ford and Chrysler. While Phil's Food Court would close and the groundhog cookie decorating would end, only the pancake breakfast, complete breakfast buffet and Groundhog Luncheon would barely survive. Pro Wrestling would cancel the Groundhog Rumble at the Community Center Gym, thereby threatening the future of the sport.

The mayor would no longer perform Groundhog Day wedding ceremonies in Phil's Wedding Chapel at the Civic Center. Phil's funhouse and maze would close as would Phil's Shadow Chaser event at the Punxsutawney Christian School. Upset Christians would demand the cancelation of pagan rituals like the "Phil Phind Scavenger Hunt," the Woodchuck Whittle Carving Show and the crowning of Little Mr. and Miss Groundhog.

Anarchy would rein as alcoholic beverages or illegal substances would now be permitted on the premises. The movie "Groundhog Day" would play nonstop, and conditions would force Phil to move to Georgia and live with his Rebel cousin where he would be forced to eat grits.

Global warming gloom would spread over mankind. Damn Al Gore and his crystal ball!

Gary Caruso, Class of '73, is a political strategist who served as a legislative and public affairs director in President Clinton's administration. His column appears every other Friday. He can be contacted at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.