- - Thursday, April 3, 2014


After another chilly winter — they’re becoming routine — Americans have caught on that the scam may be global, but it isn’t warming.

The nation this year suffered its coldest season in 102 years, according to the U.S. Historical Climatology Network. So the experts at the National Science Foundation gathered around a conference table to concoct something new to restore public faith in climate change, as they’re calling global warming now.

“I know,” one said, no doubt inspired by memories of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. “What if we rent a barn and put on a musical?” With that, the taxpayers spent $697,177 on a song-and-dance routine called “The Great Immensity.”

The grant went to The Civilians, a Brooklyn-based theater troupe whose other offerings include works celebrating Occupy Wall Street and a socialist rebellion in France. After “The Great Immensity” ends its run, the theater company is slated to unveil “Pretty Filthy,” a musical about the porn industry.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Science Committee, pressed John Holdren, the White House senior adviser on science and technology, about the National Science Foundation’s reckless use of taxpayer cash.

Mr. Smith read from a laundry list of questionable federal science funding, including the musical, a $50,000 grant to study 17th-century lawsuits in Peru and a $20,000 handout to look at the causes of stress in Bolivia.

Americans spend $7.3 billion a year on the National Science Foundation, and it’s hard to say we’re getting good value for the money. The agency does in fact back some worthwhile causes, such as scalable nanomanufacturing, but even that is better left to private businesses.

Other projects, such as worthy science programs at historically black colleges and universities, might be better financed through private donors.

What remains, the sort of programs that pay for painters and novelists to travel to work in Antarctica, shouldn’t exist at all. The country might even get by without a National Science Foundation.

If so, the National Cybersecurity Sports Federation could find a saccharine daddy to replace $300,000 in federal funding it got to create a league for computer geeks to engage in cybercompetitions as part of “a new national sport of cybersecurity.”

Without the largesse of the National Science Foundation, there would no longer be $257,721 available to determine whether digital puppetry can persuade students at the University of Central Florida to forswear getting drunk, and $152,964 wouldn’t be available to examine how prehistoric societies got along in southern Kazakhstan.

There wouldn’t be $456,414 to answer the burning question “How do baby oysters react when scientists blast them with noise through underwater speakers?” Without the $19,947 granted to Michigan State University, Americans might never know if unfit large-mouth bass tend to be more shy.

Most important for the White House, the 2,375 projects with grants related to global warming would be required to find other sources of funding. Taxpayers paid $449,972 to create a fear-mongering global-warming computer game for high school students, $101,640 to research how women’s groups on social media can respond with a “great sense of urgency to address the global climate crisis,” and $75,000 for scientists to get together in Hawaii to discuss “climate change” in the comfort of an island resort.

If the global-warming musical is boffo at the box office, it won’t need government funding. If it flops, well, they say there’s a broken heart for every light on Broadway. The government already knows how to break hearts, with neither words nor music.

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