Here's my Sunday column:
If there is any topic that all Americans engage in, it has to be the weather.
of all stripes can quickly strike up a conversation about how nice the
weather is, or how horrible — or how unpredictable.
have always had an advantage in this area. They could tell everyone
engaged in a chat that recent weather events were no match for the heat
wave of ’44 or the ice storm of ’67, or the drought of ’53.
now, even a 7-year-old can outdo the tales of the gray beards because
most of this nation’s extreme weather conditions have taken place over
the last few years. Records set in the 19th Century are broken on a
I don’t know if this signals the apocalyptic climate
change that environmentalists have predicted, but something’s going on
out there — out in the atmosphere.
In just the past several years,
sections of the country have endured unprecedented floods, snowstorms,
tornadoes, hurricanes, hail storms, droughts, wildfires, crop damage and power
outages. We’ve even experienced earthquakes in the strangest places.
I realize that no single storm or multi-month weather pattern necessarily signals the onset of permanent climate disruptions.
surely it’s time for our political leaders to give climate change a
second look after ideologues have denigrated the subject for a decade.
and trade policies have been belittled by cute conservative talking
points — “cap and tax” — while liberals’ insistence of impending doom
also skews the debate.
Nonetheless, I suspect a lot of Americans
now wonder whether the higher consumer costs associated with reducing
greenhouse gases are preferable to the catastrophic expenses leveled by
chaotic weather. I wonder if farmers, who are suffering from
heart-breaking losses of crops this summer, would be at the top of that
In fact, the deadly heat waves gripping the nation, and all
their damaging effects, are convincing a wide swath of Americans that
global temperatures are rising.
In a University of Texas poll
taken July 12-16, 70 percent of respondents said they think the climate
is changing. Those fringies denying a change fell to 15 percent.
the poll respondents now assume that the price tag of destruction, plus
huge insurance payouts for floods, crops, homes, businesses, medical
care and life lost will eclipse any increase in utility bills caused by
cap and trade solutions.
My theory is that Congress will take
action on climate change when the heat and storms in the South become so
unbearable that they disrupt the high school and college football
From a political standpoint, it is interesting to note that most of the intense weather-related damage hit the Red States.
a nation, we can debate how much of climate change is man-made. We can
argue over how soon the changes will have a substantial, global impact.
And we can discuss whether climatologists can truly deduce the
comparative weather and atmospheric conditions of hundreds of thousands
of years ago — or a few million years ago.
carbon-dating and other methods deployed by our top scientists are
preposterous to those Neanderthals — or, should I say, Neanderthal
deniers — who believe the earth is just 6,000 years old.
passes for a climate change debate on talk-radio and cable TV is the
equivalent of two blowhards sitting on bar stools attempting to
pontificate about the latest high-tech methods for conducting heart
It may be time for those who call climate change a “hoax”
to admit that the economics of severe weather has reached a tipping
What’s obvious is that all of this has political
implications. Experts say the full impact of the inclement weather will
manifest itself in October when food prices will rise significantly and
the inevitable stories about inadequate responses to weather damage by
FEMA and the Department of Agriculture will play prominently in the
pre-election 24/7 news cycle.
And then there’s this: Farmers say
the effects of sharply reduced corn supplies to feed livestock will mean
that the country must become accustomed to tough, chewy steak. No
true-blue American voter in the Heartland will stand for an inferior
Of course, all of this is bad news for the re-election prospects of President Obama.
say the changing climate is part of a cyclical pattern — God’s will.
Agnostics say that it all started with the Big Bang followed by rapid
global population growth and the spread of the industrial revolution to
most corners of the planet.
I don’t know. But, as a political junkie, not a science geek, it’s clear to me that Mother Nature is a Mitt Romney supporter.