The harsh mis­tress

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

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.

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