It is August in the South--and it is hot. This week Atlanta is "hot-lanta."

Further evidence of global warming?

Not in itself. I heard Rush Limbaugh say yesterday that the hottest decade of the last century was the 1930s. Is that true? Perhaps. From what I read, it was evidently pretty hot and dry. The "Dust Bowl" and all that.

Bear Bryant's hellish mini-camp at Junction is a legend near-and-dear to the hearts of most Texas football fans (Aggies especially). The ten-day ordeal took place in 1954 in the midst of a horrific six-year heat wave and drought in the Texas Hill County. The temperature reached the century mark on every tortuous day of the football encampment, and, according to legend, several days saw temperatures in the one-hundred-teens.

Is it hotter this summer than ever before? Probably not.

What I hate most about the current global warming debate is the politicization and hysteria. That is, I just don't trust the people who are the most adamant and apocalyptic in their warnings that we face a crisis of epic proportions. They are the same folks who brought us the Great Society, social engineering, political correctness, and unilateral disarmament.

They are also persons who have cried wolf too often.

On the other hand, the basic concept of good stewardship and prudential long-term planning makes good sense. We ought to be concerned about the future. Perceptive thinkers have fretted about limited resources since Malthus and Benjamin Franklin.

The predicament: Finite resources and exponential population growth equals a problem at some point in human history. Thus far, dramatic advances in technology and an amazingly dynamic and productive economic system have outpaced the inherent difficulty --and made the Malthusian predictions of scarcity during the nineteenth century the butt of modern derision.

However, do we really think that this planet will sustain 10 billion people? Twenty billion? Thirty billion? Do we think the United States will sustain a billion? Two billion? Do we think the American Southwest can continue to meet its water needs in perpetuity?

Does it alarm anyone other than me that we have become accustomed to a luxuriously abundant lifestyle that is predicated on an expanding economy, which is dependent on a growing, building, and expanding civilization, which requires the creation and infusion of more and more inhabitants into an environment with finite resources. There are limits. Where those limits actually exist--perhaps no one can say with certainty. However, undoubtedly, there must be a point at which our demand for potable water, breathable air, and fossil fuels to run our modern world exceeds the planet's capacity to offer them up.

A question for another day: what happens when and/or if the lights go out for good?