Guest opinion by William L. Anderson
Not long ago, had someone run for President of the United States on a platform of creating better weather, both the media and the voters rightly would have rejected that candidate for the right reasons. Unfortunately, common sense now is turned upside down and the candidate who fails to promise better weather now is under fire for being “anti-science.”
In a recent campaign speech in Miami, Hillary Clinton declared that destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew was the product of “climate change,” as though the actions of this latest storm differed significantly from that of previous hurricanes. Claimed Clinton:
Right now the ocean is at or near record-high temperatures, and that contributed to the torrential rainfall and the flash flooding that we saw in the Carolinas. Sea levels have already risen about a foot, one foot, in much of the southeast, which means that Matthew’s storm surge was higher, and the flooding was worse.
The idea that “torrential rains” during a hurricane are unusual ignores history. When Camille slammed into the Gulf Coast in 1969 as a Category 5 hurricane, killing more than 250 people and later dumping 32 inches of rainfall into the James River watershed in Virginia, no one claimed that this superstorm was human-caused.
In 1935, the strongest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland, the Labor Day Hurricane, brought record winds and more than 400 deaths, and it brought more destruction than Matthew ever caused, but no one claimed it was the result of “climate change.” However, should a storm of that magnitude hit this country today, the media and many politicians would declare that “climate change” was the culprit. Indeed, as a number of tweets and public statements came out from “climate activists,” it is clear that many of them were disappointed that Matthew was not even more destructive, with one scientist declaring on Twitter: “With ridiculous complaining I am seeing, some seem disappointed there isn’t tragic loss of life/apocalyptic (sic).”
Clinton certainly seems to have drunk the “hurricanes are caused by humans” Kool-Aid. Ironically, in her Miami speech, she claimed that it is anti-science to have any skepticism about Al Gore’s apocalyptic predictions of doom—despite the fact that Gore has misstated science and has made a number of false predictions. Given that the heart of scientific method involves testing theories to see if they actually predict real events, one cannot claim to be pro-science and take Gore’s unfulfilled predictions seriously.
For example, Gore claimed that the Arctic Ocean would be completely free of ice by the summer of 2007, yet summer ice levels in that region are showing no signs of diminishing. Likewise, Gore claimed that ice in Antarctica would be disappearing when, in fact, the ice sheet over that continent is growing. Very few, if any, of Gore’s predictions have come to fruition, but that “inconvenient truth” stops neither Gore nor Clinton from making false claims.
As already noted, Clinton declares in her Miami speech that sea levels have “already risen by about a foot” in the U.S. Southeast. The context of her comments implied that the increase was recent. However, the chart below demonstrates that the rise in sea level has been about eight inches since 1880, with about two-thirds occurring before 1980, when some climate scientists warned that the earth was on the verge of a new ice age. (The alleged culprit for the dreaded “global cooling” also was the burning of fossil fuels, so in the past 40 years, activists have claimed that use of these fuels creates both dangerous heating and cooling.)
As the chart demonstrates, rising sea levels have been part of a longer-term trend, not something that just began. Unfortunately, good science becomes lost in the political rhetoric.
To make matters worse, a number of Clinton’s fellow Democrats and their party platform call for scientists and others who do research in climate-related fields but don’t reach the apocalyptic conclusions Democrats demand to be investigated and even prosecuted and imprisoned for being “deniers” and “anti-science.” In the name of “believing in science,” they are using vile tactics of outright intimidation to attack people for actually doing science.
No one has accused the “skeptics” of faking data or setting up fraudulent models to rig false results. Instead, Democrats and activists like James Hansen simply accused them of reaching conclusions contrary to the current political zeitgeist. This atmosphere of political intimidation is reminiscent of “Lysenkosim,” the era of false science under Stalin in the U.S.S.R. in which thousands of scientists who contradicted the fraudulent ideas of Stalin’s favorite “scientist,” Trofim Lysenko, were imprisoned or executed. (At least Democrats so far have not called for “skeptics” to be killed!)
Nothing in Clinton’s speeches leads one to think she opposes her Party’s platform calling for this persecution of scientists who disagree with her. Like Al Gore, she seems to have an agenda that, frankly, is anti-science. She cannot bring us better weather, but she can impose a climate police state, which would damage this country more than any storm ever could.
William Anderson is Professor of Economics at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD, and a contributing writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.