The harsh mistress
Mark Twain is supposed to have said that “everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” That was actually his friend Charles Dudley Warner (an editorial writer) who said it. President Obama, who has no taste for idle talk, now proposes to actually do something about the rowdy wind and the errant rain. He has appointed a task force. If that doesn’t work, another executive order may follow, to tell the sun to shape up.
For now, the president has ordered all agencies of the federal government to escalate their preparedness in towns and states threatened by global warming. Among the terrors Mr. Obama identifies as requiring federal intervention are “prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise.” Frost on the pumpkin and outbreaks of crabgrass in the backyard can be dealt with later.
The president’s new Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience will tell communities how to mitigate the effects of climate change by recycling and changing to mercury-filled light bulbs, lest the polar bears drown. On his panel are seven Democratic governors and the Republican governor of Guam, “where America’s morning begins” and where the day sometimes includes a big wind roaring down Typhoon Alley.
The president is so determined to impose a little order in the universe that he wants to spend nearly twice as much money on universe-discipline as he’s willing to spend to secure America’s borders against unrestricted and unregulated immigration. In a recent report to House Republicans, the White House took note that the United States will spend $22.2 billion across 18 federal agencies this year to lower the planet’s temperature. Next year, it expects to spend nearly that much to pay authors of scare stories and the producers of windmills, solar panels and $16-a-gallon jet fuel extracted from algae.
On the other hand, Mr. Obama wants to spend only $12 billion for border security and customs enforcement, the agents assigned to hold back illegal immigration. Given the administration’s handling of the southern border — an estimated 12 million illegals, and counting — some people are skeptical that even spending all that climate money will accomplish very much beyond expanding those 18 federal agencies.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management held a firstever auction of permits to produce solar power on federal land last month, and the Denver Business Journal reports that no one showed up. Rejection can hurt, as any lad who ever asked the wrong girl to the prom could tell you, and the feds with the moneybags clearly misjudged interest in the 3,700 acres made available for sun-powered projects in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Turning sunshine into electricity is expensive, and businessmen bidding with their own money understand that nothing hurts more than going bust.
Just as the president girds his loins, as it were, to fight global warming, the sun may be about to dial down its wanton rays. A growing body of scientists, many with sore loins from the global-warming fight, now say it’s likely that the sun is soon to enter a phase of reduced activity. These phases happen. Periodic quiet periods by the sun, called the Maunder Minimum, is often marked by unusually chilly temperatures. Europe went through such a cold maundering between the 16th and 19th centuries. This was called the Little Ice Age. If the sun continues to misbehave like this, all the money spent to prevent global warming will be as useless as putting a thermostat in Mr. Obama’s office to control the sun.