How Is the Government Preparing for a Cold Winter?
Most of us have trouble thinking to the end of the month. This can be demonstrated by the fact that 64% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Actually, most are permanently in debt, what with credit card balances, car payments, student loan debt, and the rest. The point is that it's human nature not to look ahead, not to prepare. As long as we have the essentials, it's difficult to project into next week, next month, or next year.
That fact explains many things, including the public's lack of concern about a $33-trillion federal debt. Another striking example is the public's fascination with what has been a warm summer. This summer has seen record heat or near-record heat in some places — though every summer sees records in some places — and is said to be on track for a global heat record (though several factors, including increased urbanization — with more heat sensors located closer to heat-generating concrete — complicate the data).
It was inevitable that many on the left, including Hawaii's Democrat governor, would blame the Maui fires on drought driven by "climate change," despite lack of evidence for a causal relationship. In a convincing piece in the Washington Examiner, Nicholas Clairmont refutes that claim, noting that "there no evidence climate change ... is the cause of this particular drought trend."
Yes, 2023 was a hot summer, but summer has been hot in the past, and it is supposed to be hot. What the public is missing is that the beginning of winter is just a few months away, and this winter is likely to be very cold and costly in lives lost, lost productivity, and emergency expenses.
What are the odds of a very cold winter in 2023–24? Several factors are involved. First, we have not had a very cold winter in years. The "abandoned slot machine" theory suggests that it's time to have one, if not this winter, then soon.
Second, volcanic activity has been on the rise, and volcanoes do contribute to cold winters. Large volcanoes spew sunlight-blocking ash into the stratosphere, lowering temperatures, as did the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. Recent volcanic activity in Iceland, Indonesia, Guatemala, Tonga, Hawaii, Sicily, Russia, and elsewhere has emitted sunlight-blocking ash with the potential for lower temperatures this winter.
The Farmers' Almanac has been more accurate than climate scientists in predicting the weather, perhaps because the Almanac's editors don't have a political ax to grind. This year's prediction is for a winter that is "colder and wetter" in the eastern half of the country and extremely cold in the central U.S., while New England and New York will be snowy and bitterly cold. In sum, the Almanac states, "We expect more snow and low temperatures nationwide."
What will this year's cold, wet winter do to the ordinary American? Biden has driven electricity rates up by 30% on average, so whatever happens, this winter will be costlier. The average American household will pay $1,268 to heat its home through the winter using electricity — Biden's preferred method of heating.
Colder winters also bring about more illness, as humans spend more time inside dry, disease-spreading environments for longer periods of time. The CDC, predicting a "tripledemic" this winter, is already suggesting a return to masking. Mask mandates have not been shown to reduce the spread of disease: if anything, they increase death by isolating and stressing people and limiting their access to needed health care, including necessary operations and checkups. But leftist governors — and presidents — love to impose mask mandates, and more may be coming.
It's not just COVID. Colder temperatures take a stark toll in deaths due to pneumonia, flu, exposure, and other cold-related illnesses. And greater snowfalls result in more vehicular deaths and injuries. As the New York Post points out, annually there are about 2,300 heat-related deaths in the U.S., but some 100,000 die each year from the cold. How many will die from a colder-than-average winter?
How much planning has gone into dealing with the possibility of a colder than expected winter? So far as I can tell from White House news releases and presidential remarks, none. The White House seems even less proactive than the working guy living paycheck to paycheck. Less, in fact. At least the average household has a valid excuse in that its money doesn't go as far as it did under President Trump. As for the White House, it can print as much as it likes, and it has.
The likelihood of a cold, dark, wet winter filled with death, disease, heavy snowfalls, vehicular deaths, and higher heating bills, and higher bills for everything else, isn't something to ignore, but the Biden administration seems to ignore every rational threat — like China, for example — while exploiting every irrational danger, like "boiling" climate change.
A rational response would be to begin planning for and alerting the public to the dangers and likelihood of a colder than normal winter. But that would upset the global warming narrative, which is why we haven't heard much about the cold. Not since our moms insisted we wear an extra set of wool socks.
Biden won't say it, so I'll say it for him: prepare for a long and costly winter — the kind Shakespeare, who knew a lot about the cold (living through one of the coldest periods in modern British history), describes in many of his plays, including King Lear, Richard III, and Hamlet.
One can learn a great deal from Shakespeare, but I doubt if many of Biden's young advisers are conversant with his plays. And when it comes to Biden's climate policies, one quote in particular comes to mind: "Nothing can come of nothing" (King Lear, Act I, Scene 1).
Prepare for the cold. Add to your savings. Prepare your vehicle for winter. Guard your health as best as you can. And pray for a conservative victory in November 2024.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).