Taking hysteria to the bank
The groundwork for climate activism was laid many years ago. Some of you may remember the great awakening known as the "New Age." I was in college when the organic produce fad really got going. My cult radar was buzzing, and Jesus Freaks could be heard chanting, "Praise the lord!" from various residences in my student bedroom community.
Some mindsets were permanently formed within this mold. A close relative of mine, among other things, became a health nut. Once, while visiting him, I went to the kitchen sink to get a drink of water. He grabbed my arm and yelled, "Don't drink from that sewer!" We're talking about the highly regulated product of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Needless to say, he also wouldn't let his children be vaccinated. Also, pricey bottled waters tend to reach consumers with less scrutiny of their purity than that which comes out of the tap.
Today's "news" is filled with summer heat wave alarm. "Hottest on record" is often being used to pump up the drama. But no mention is made that we've had thermometers for only the last 300 years, less than an eye blink in the annals of Earth science.
There is, however, a way to review past weather and climate conditions going back as much as a few thousand years: tree ring analysis. Back in the early 1980s, a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley named Scott Stein used tree ring analysis to discover that a drought in the 1890s, which was used by William Mulholland and other L.A. city fathers to float a major bond issue to build the Owens Valley aqueduct, never really happened. Years later, the late, great Walter E. Williams wrote a column about Scott's use of dendrochronology to cast doubt on the "global warming" panic.
Gullibility remains an unfortunate aspect of human nature, and somewhat credible hoaxes tend to come in groups. Along with climate hysteria is the call for vast increases in oppressive and authoritarian government. After all, the only reason we have other problems such as gun violence and poverty is because we don't have enough laws, and politicians don't have enough raw power.
As this is being written, President Biden is shouting from the rooftops that he is going to bypass the obstructionist Congress and address the climate crisis on his own. Gee, heat waves in July...now I've seen everything. Every second counts, right? But what can we really do? Oh, yeah — murder capitalist prosperity and enslave the masses.
Seldom is there any mention of the importance of air pressure on ambient temperature, although weather forecasters do refer to high-pressure "domes" when predicting when and where temperatures will spike. This is because of compression heating, where air molecules heat up when they're packed into a tighter space. The opposite happens when compressed molecules are released into a partial vacuum — which is the essence of mechanical refrigeration. Atmospheric "heat trapping" is mostly important when it comes to nighttime temperatures. Were this not to happen, everything would freeze solid once the sun went down, just as it does on the dark side of the moon.
Harnessing hysteria has also enhanced the overreaction to the COVID-19 virus. How else could lockdowns, school closures, and mask and vaccine mandates take effect among folks who are traditionally used to freedom? A question that I am not able to answer is, what would things be like if no dictates were handed down? Vaccines and therapies would still be developed, as they are for any other common illness. And the economic, social, and psychological dislocation would likely be much, much less severe.
Bottom line: Fear is a great motivator...but it is not anywhere near conducive to proper decision-making. Much can, however, be learned from mistakes, and there now seems to be a welcome flattening of the learning curve.