I’m writing this from Washington, D.C., looking out at cars buried in snowdrifts and hemmed in by snowbanks, along a snow-covered street — where the occasional pedestrian toils past, like those lone stragglers in an apocalypse movie. I’ve lost track of whether Washington has already beat the record snowfall of 1898, or is just edging up on it. But if carbon emissions will warm this scene, we’re ready to exhale and switch on all the lights.
In Washington, where local authorities can’t even keep the streets open, this is of course the week the White House picked to announce plans to set up a new “Climate Service.” This will presumably be enlisted along with the United Nations, the Environmental Protection Agency and Ted Turner’s UN Foundation to tell us all how to amend our lives to control the climate of the planet.
On the basis of what? Climate “science”? Thirty years ago, the budding climate-ocracy was sounding the klaxons over “global cooling.” Then it was “global warming.” Now it’s “extreme weather.” Hmmm. Would that be “extreme” as in the record Washington snowfall of 1898? That was back in the low carbon-emissions era when people were engaged in such useful projects as inventing better, cheaper incandescent lightbulbs, so everyone could enjoy well lit rooms — instead of regulating these lightbulbs away because Al Gore and the United Nations said the earth had a fever.
The climate is always changing, and it would be interesting and maybe even useful to understand how and why. But mankind is not there yet. The “consensus” packaged as “science” by the UN is unraveling as a fraud, and the eager interest of many governments in jumping aboard the climate train can increasingly be seen for what it is: a pretext for taxing and controlling your life, in ways likely to do nothing for the climate, but plenty for the crony climate-ocracy.
What’s the real answer to changes in weather? Here’s one place to start, right now, in Washington:
It’s called a snow shovel.
That’s a private sector kind of thing, relying on individual initiative, and since they are still sold by the private sector, a lot of people have them. As I write this, someone has appeared across the street, and thanks to individual initiative, he is using one — clearing the snow from his steps.
That, in a nutshell, is how mankind has coped with a lot of climate change for centuries — or millennia. Human beings adapt, and in stunningly creative ways. To cope with winter weather, man did not try to end winter. He discovered fire. Invented clothes. Built houses. Devised heating systems. To cope with hot weather, man devised ways to build shade, make ice, and eventually invented air conditioning. Thanks to markets, these inventions spread.
Had authorities of yore tried to dictate, curtail, regulate into nothingness or even forbid such activities, in the name of propitiating climate gods to produce centuries of never-changing weather, the world today would be a lot closer to a scenario of mankind living naked, in the dark, assailed by the elements — or maybe fighting for access to caves.
Humanity thrives on the power of individual incentives, enterprise and ingenuity. That’s how we have always made our real, valuable, useful adaptations to what the climate brings. For that matter, if we want to try to predict the climate, and know why and how much it is changing, and in which directions, there’s a better chance of genuinely private enterprise homing in reliable answers — absent the pressures, under-handed tax schemes, backroom deals and politicized grants that come of turning these matters over to the government.
Over at Forbes.com, John Tamny had a terrific article a few days ago on why you can’t get a taxi in Washington during a snowstorm — all about the failure of state regulations and the value of free-market incentives in encouraging people to adapt to what nature dishes out.
By all means, let scientists delve into the immense complexities of the earth’s climate — if they do so honestly. But in the matter of coping with climate, the answer is not to create and enlist yet another state-backed “climate” outfit as rationale for state taxation, regulation and control over our lives. The answer is to get off our backs, and let individuals observe, think, invent and find ways to adapt.
Watching the guy across the way, whose steps are now clear of snow — unlike the street, which the authorities have yet to plow — I can’t help thinking that if the government were in charge of snow shovel distribution and use, he’d still be stuck in his house.