Using Climate Change to Bring in a Tide of Activism

I suspect most normal people would respond to this headline, from an ecoRI commentary, with a “Woohoo!”: “Hotter, Longer Summers in Rhode Island are Becoming the Norm.”

Last year, T.F. Green Airport set a record for the number of days over the 80 degrees Farheneit heat index mark since data began to be consistently kept in 1948. So far this year, we’ve had 75 days with a heat index more than 80 degrees, a stunning figure for New England.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re almost to a three-month summer!  (Imagine the benefit to our economy if we weren’t so badly governed.)

This isn’t an area of sufficient focus for me to pick through the various data points that J. Timmons Roberts (Brown professor of environmental studies and sociology), Melissa Eliot (data manager of Brown’s Center for Environmental Health and Technology), and Gregory Wellenius (Brown associate professor of epidemiology at Brown) stuff into their brief essay, but just one gives an indication of what a deeper review would surely show.  The trio recycles Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s bogus statistic about tides “rising 10 inches on the Newport tide gauge since 1930.”  As I’ve pointed out before, one must pick the dates very carefully to paint some truth on this generally dishonest statement.

What kind of professors traffic in bogus numbers?  It’s telling, right off the bat, that Roberts is not just an environment researcher, but a sociologist.  Many of us on the political right suspect that’s the sweet spot for climate change alarmism, because the alarm is meant to herd us to behaviors that our betters would prefer.  Consider this, for example, from Roberts’s bio on the site of the Brookings Institution (yes, that Brookings), where he’s a non-resident senior fellow on the global economy and development:

He is a leader in Rhode Island’s efforts to lead the nation on addressing climate change; supervising groups of students who, in collaborating with local organizations, have successfully passed major climate change legislation.

In short, he’s an activist leveraging his positions at Brown University and the Brookings Institution to lobby for changes to the law, with a ready crew of assistants who pay him for the experience.  When our state-level legislators pass laws that make it more difficult and more expensive to live in Rhode Island, which hasn’t a snowball’s chance in a sunspot of averting global climate disaster, you may have the good professor and his acolytes to thank.

It’s reasonable, then, and timely, too, to question strange-seeming statements such as this:

Although deadly heat waves make the headlines, studies also show that more moderate heat is also associated with excess deaths and emergency department visits. In fact, because days that are merely warm and not extremely hot are much more common, researchers estimate that the total number of people that die or are hospitalized due to excess heat is much greater for moderately hot days than for extremely hot days.

Got that?  It’s even dangerous when the days are “merely warm.”  So, next time you walk out in the spring or autumn and turn your cheek to the sun with a smile, know that your pleasure comes at the expense of people’s lives.  (How selfish.)  On the other hand, given the financial and ideological incentives, as well as the rhetorical habits, of such activists, we shouldn’t be surprised if the data includes, for example, injuries sustained because people are out and about enjoying the weather.  

If that’s the case, there may be a level of humanitarian genius behind the activists’ policy suggestions.  If the weather makes people more active and people therefore get hurt at a greater rate, even if public policy can’t change the weather, we might save lives if we ensure that fewer people can afford to do anything more than hide in the shade. This may explain Rhode Island law and economy better than at first seems likely.

Putting aside the benefits of saving lives by stalling them, I noted yesterday that the patina of objectivity provided by science (nominal or otherwise) is central to the strategy of imposing an ideology while deflating intellectual competition through cultural relativism.  A university at which students take action to bring attention to the “fact” that “not all people who menstruate are women” is clearly a hothouse breeding ground for dupes and feeding ground for dupers.

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