- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

“Climate research,” the New York Times confidently assures us, “stands at a crossroads.” This means that a lot of research scientists are standing at the crossroads, holding out paper bags like trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, standing in line for taxpayer largesse to fill ‘em up.

These specialists in shakedown “science,” who speak only in hyperbole, are calling the weather of 2011 the worst in history, or at least in memory, or maybe a decade, and say they could have found useful links between disasters and global-warming “science” by now if only they could shake down tightwad taxpayers for a few more millions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made a little list of a dozen weather disasters of the year now swiftly passing into history - wildfires in Texas, floods on the Mississippi and tornadoes in Tornado Alley. Unfortunately for global-warming “scientists” ever on the scout for handouts, there were no bad hurricanes to report this year. Nevertheless, the speakers of hyperbole are making the best of the scant material at hand.

“I’ve been a meteorologist for 30 years and have never seen a year that comes close to matching 2011 for the number of astounding, extreme weather events,” the easily astounded Jeffrey Masters of the Weather Underground website tells the newspaper, which is always alert for opportunities to beat this favorite drum. “Looking back in the historical record, which goes back to the late 1800s, I can’t find anything that compares, either.”

Maybe he should look a little harder. The disasters, calamities and other inconveniences blamed on changing weather include not only floods and fires in the United States but similar disasters in Australia, the Philippines and Southeast Asia, where calamity is part of something called “life.” Anyone spooked by “unprecedented flooding” in the Mississippi River Valley in the United States should check the precedents of the great floods of 1927 and 1937, when much of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana lay underwater for weeks, and mud even longer.

The hyperbolic claims that man has never been so badly abused by the weather, and that man himself has asked for it with his wild and wicked ways abusing nature, are given the lie by the fact that the weather has been wild and wicked in many millennia before this one, when there were not nearly so many of us stalking the planet for opportunities to make mischief.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that 70 percent of the various species on the planet will be wiped out if global warming continues at the predicted rate. Floods, droughts, hurricanes, blizzards and other bad stuff will do us in.

The solution, the panel says, lies in either mitigation, to finally do something about the weather, or adaptation, to make the best of the bad news.

Mitigation relies on regulation, and naturally the worthies of shakedown science prescribe mitigation first. Regulation will require many studies, written in the language of academics that no one else can understand, to be read at elaborate conferences, always held at luxury resorts that a shakedown scientist could never afford on his own dime. The conclusion of the learned shakedown artists is invariably about how to milk the governments of the West for more handouts.

The director of NOAA tells the New York Times that with the pressure on the U.S. government to cut expenses and save taxpayers money, “it’s going to be more and more challenging to devote resources to many of our research programs.”

Science, which has replaced religion as the source of faith in certain circles, has otherwise always been skeptical of certitude. Science has always held that nothing is so settled as to be beyond questioning. This held until the propagation of the gospel of global warming. Skeptics are called “deniers,” their arguments mocked, and held up to public ridicule.

It’s a particular conceit of man to imagine that he is both the author and the center of the universe, that whatever happens to the stars is the work of his hand. “We are changing the large-scale properties of the atmosphere,” declares Benjamin D. Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. “You can’t engage in this vast planetary experiment — warming the surface, warming the atmosphere, moistening the atmosphere — and have no impact on the frequency and duration of extreme events.”

Or not. “Everybody talks about the weather,” Mark Twain said, “but nobody does anything about it.”

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.