Thursday, January 9, 2014

Weather or not

2014 has started with startlingly frigid temperatures throughout much of the U.S..  In my nearly 25 years as a Californian I would rub it in at times like this.  Once, when I was running a division of a conglomerate that was headquartered in Minnesota with offices in New York and Santa Monica, I listened as folks complained about snow and wind chill.  I chimed in:  yea, getting the sand out of my shoes is always annoying.  Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it's even less amusing.  This week northern Minnesota  (and some other places) were actually colder than the surface of Mars (according to The Smithsonian).   As a Californian who spent 9 months in Minnesota, it was me who felt more of a Martian.  Outer space is where the political world is headed about the politicization of weather issues.

Climate Change  – originally branded as Global Warming – is the phenomenon where “normal” weather patterns have changed and human abuse of the planet is the causation. Meteorologists are now introducing Americans to the “polar vortex” to help explain this current bout of abnormal weather. 

President Obama tweeted last May “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man made and dangerous.”  According to Jeff Jacoby in a column from last month’s Boston Globe: the American Meteorological Society surveyed its professional members and found a bare majority, 52 percent, said that climate change is largely being driven by human activity.  The inconvenient truth is the science is far from settled.  Does that mean we shouldn’t be doing something?  Of course we should, but what it is should be determined by science, not politics.  (Hybrids are great in concept, until you realize that the carbon footprint is double that of a non-hybrid car when you consider the battery and other manufacturing impacts.)

Once upon a time facts were facts.  It wasn’t all that long ago.  But politics infused facts.  Could a Republican administration release a report that was contrary to its party platform?  If a Democratic administration found that something was opposite its beliefs/goals, would they release it?  That used to be the mantra and philosophy of government study and reporting...very Adam 12:  just the facts.  No longer.  

Taxpayers underwrite the cost of research so that whatever the result is going to be whatever the result is.  The government shouldn't be 'rooting' for one perspective. Interests – whether they were business, labor or something in-between – were deliberately out of the process.  Now the reports that come out of Government are framed to support a particular legislative goal or policy initiative.  The result is that people can have their own facts, their own reports and their own positions.  The loss of an objective ability to have core facts must be remedied before further political polarization takes place. 
Politicians have lost faith in the people to interpret information and come to a fair conclusion, so data is tweaked and positioned.  In turn the people have lost faith in politics as well as government and its objectivity let alone its ability to do anything.  Whether or not there’s climate change, global warming or a polar vortex – the legacy we need is that facts are facts.

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