Chicken Little looked puzzled as a perspiring Little Red Hen fluttered down from the nest where she was sitting on a clutch of their eggs.
"You left those eggs alone half an hour ago," he cautioned. "If you want them to hatch, shouldn't you stay on them longer than that?"
"I don't understand it," the Little Red Hen responded. "I didn't used to get so hot sitting on eggs. All the other sitting hens have the same complaint. Why now?"
Chicken Little thought and thought. Then his face brightened as he experienced a "Eureka" moment. "The reason must be that THE SKY IS WARMING. But is it happening just here in our barnyard, or is it occurring elsewhere as well? We've got to find out. Let's text other chickens around the country and the world. If there is a pattern of warmer skies, we must tell our Supreme Leader, Fox the Pox."
At Chicken Little's request, Henny Penny sent off text messages to her pen fowl in many places, asking if they also thought THE SKY IS WARMING.
From Massachusetts, the Plymouth Rocks replied, "Our oral historians tell us that THE SKY IS WARMING and has been doing that for some time. Any further increase could threaten our food sources. They say we should petition Fox the Pox, urging him to work with other leaders to do something."
>From Rhode Island, the Reds replied collectively, reporting an increasingly warmer sky, an especially dangerous trend since summer had just started. "Chicken Little is right. We must warn Fox the Pox."
But it wasn't just chickens who responded to Henny Penny's survey. Ducky Lucky texted back that the warming sky had forced him to alter his migration pattern. "We've been going north much earlier in recent years, not knowing what the problem was. Chicken Little has nailed it. THE SKY IS WARMING, and that is changing our way of life."
Turkey Lurkey, responding via email, reported that their food supply had diminished in recent years but they didn't know why. "Yes, a warmer sky could have caused berries and other food to have diminished in amount in recent years. Ask Fox the Pox to do something about it."
The responses from the others reiterated the fear that warming skies were the cause of springs disappearing, ponds drying up, and plants dying off. "Plead with Fox the Pox to make the sky cooler," texted Goosey Loosey. Honey Bunny, Lambsy Divey, and Piggly Wiggly all concurred. "Fox the Pox must take the lead in cooling the warming sky," they wrote in a joint petition. "Have Chicken Little carry our plea to Fox the Pox, our Supreme Leader."
Rolly Poley, visiting from Hudson Bay, informed Chicken Little that the polar bears were complaining that their fur coats were too hot in summer now, but they didn't know why and there was nothing they could do about it. Could Chicken Little help them?
With the animal kingdom urging him to represent them in this crisis, Chicken Little began his journey to present their grievance to Fox the Pox, who had agreed to meet with the animal's representative.
Outside the opulent Fox Tower in which Fox the Pox resided when not at his official residence, scores of protesting animals carried signs that read "THE SKY IS WARMING. STOP IT." The Fox Tower had been nicknamed "The Green House" by Shawn Spice, a seasoned press agent for the Supreme Leader. Spice's intent was to give the impression that Fox the Pox was genuinely interested in environmental issues, such as the warming sky.
Chicken Little was ushered into a round office - "No cutting corners here" was Fox's motto. After inquiring about the health of The Little Red Hen and Henny Penny, Fox the Pox asked what the problem was. Chicken Little recounted the responses from his survey, noting how THE SKY IS WARMING presented a worldwide danger.
Unimpressed, Fox the Pox responded. "That THE SKY IS WARMING may pose minor problems for some, but a warming temperature would make it less necessary for whales and butterflies to migrate such long distances to reach a warmer climate in winter. Warm skies would reduce the need for fuel to heat homes, thereby reducing the destruction from oil drilling and coal mining."
As Fox the Pox offered more examples of how warming skies were beneficial to the animal kingdom, Chicken Little ruffled his feather in discontent. As he started to raise his voice in objection, Fox the Pox bit off his head, then threw the carcass out a window and into the midst of the protesters.
"Go home," Spice advised the frightened demonstrators. "So what if THE SKY IS WARMING. Make a profit off it!"
Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona. firstname.lastname@example.org