Today is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting Louisiana and Mississippi. I predict you will see lots of video montages of the disaster, and certain people will use it as a chance to castigate President Bush by name and FEMA in general as not doing enough for the victims. And I’m sure many more round-ups of Katrina will appear this week. But I’m not going to focus on that. Instead, I’m going to focus on hysteria — specifically, the hysteria surrounding global warming.

We can expect blow-hards like former Vice President Al Gore to fan the flames of hysteria over global warming with the alarming tripe of An Inconvenient Truth. And Gore spends plenty of time hyping the hurricanes of 2005. Even National Geographic is pondering global warming with articles like “Is Global Warming Making Hurricanes Worse?” You could have made that case last year with the number of named storms in the Atlantic, but if we are in a crisis of global warming, and global warming makes worse hurricanes, then riddle me this: what’s up with this year’s hurricanes?

On this day in 2005, Katrina pounded the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. As a named storm beginning with the letter K, it was the 11th storm of the season big enough to warrant a name. Today we are worried about Ernesto hitting Florida; as the E name indicates, Ernesto is the 6th named storm for 2006. Let’s see, if I do the math right here… carry the two… adjust for pi… round up… round down… hide the remainder… it appears that we’ve had about half the storm activity this year as we did last season. Did global warming give up this year? Hah! Like you’d ever hear that from a global warming activist. No, you’ll hear the activists say global warming is the cause for this year’s fewer hurricanes in the same way that global warming was the cause for last year’s high number of hurricanes. I wrote how global warming activists will accept pretty much any weather as proof of global warming:

But global warming does seem to be a great catch-all explanation. If it’s rainy, it’s global warming. If it’s dry, it’s global warming. At the height of summer, you’ll hear reporters and politicians bemoaning global warming. But just as many will cry and wring their hands over global warming in the middle of winter. Some goofs even had the bright idea to hold a global warming conference in Montreal in the middle of freakin’ winter.

I believe hurricanes are created by a multitude of interacting environmental factors, and not by one environmental blowhard global warming source.

When Idaho’s Teton Dam broke on June 5, 1976, the people downstream in the towns of Wilford, Sugar City, and Rexburg had only a short warning to vacate before the waters from the breaking dam hit their homes. Many people were able to grab a few cherished belongings before the flood waters took everything away. There isn’t much time to dither and debate over what to toss into the car when you know that you may lose your life if you take too long. All in all, only six people died from the flooding, while several more died because of heart attacks or accidents.

My family lived in Germany in the early 1980s. We understood that a war between the East and West could break out at any time, and we hoped that there would be enough warning during the escalation of hostilities so that civilians could be evacuated first. We knew that at some point a command would be issued for us to gather our 72-hour kits and head for the airport to be flown back to the States, while the active-duty family members would stay at their stations.

A decade earlier, when we were living in Florida, a hurricane made landfall. We had two options: either leave the state while the storm came up, or ride it out at the house. I remember the family listening carefully to the radio and watching TV as the storm approached. Finally we decided to stay put. It’s been too many years now, so I can’t remember whether we stayed because the storm was forecast to pass us by, or because it was a weakened storm when it finally hit. But my parents pondered their options before they made the decision to stay.

Mount St. Helens suffered many minor earthquakes and eruptions before it finally blew one Sunday morning in 1980. People had been warned of an eruption before it came, but scientists converged on the mountain despite the threat. And some people chose to wait it out. One such person was Harry Truman, an eccentric old man who chose not to leave his cabin even when people warned him of the danger and told him to evacuate. He refused, and he perished.

While our family was in North Dakota, I remember waking up one night to the sound of tornado alarms. We spent the next few hours in the basement while the storm raged overhead. I remember learning later that three tornadoes had been spotted that night. Knowing what we needed to do that night made the waiting easier.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have shown how important it is to listen to the authorities, and to prepare to leave the path of danger. Another thing this disaster showed us is just how much we are on our own, especially right after a disaster strikes. You should not plan on getting any aid or assistance for between 72 and 96 hours after a disaster. So you should be prepared to care for yourself and those around you for at least that period of time.

Are you prepared for a disaster? You may think you won’t have a disaster where you live, but I challenge you to name a state in the U.S. that is free of natural disasters in any form. Along the Gulf and East Coast there are hurricane threats. Massive winter storms strike the Northeast. Tornadoes hit the midlands, and extreme heat, drought and flash floods affect the desert Southwest. And we on the West Coast are in constant danger of earthquakes, volcanoes and liberals.

So do you have what you need to last the 72 to 96 hours after a disaster before aid comes in? We have a 72-hour kit here at home with the water, food, and emergency items we would need to keep us going. But what we are lacking is an easy way to carry it, and at least one change of clothes. I know that just having clean socks is a great feeling when you are tired and dirty. Emergency cash would also be very handy. And while you are putting your emergency kit together, are you making sure that you have 3-4 days’ worth of necessary medicines? If you need daily injections of insulin, anti-depressants, blood pressure or similar critical medications, do you really want to run the risk of going days without taking them?

You can visit the Red Cross or the U.S. government’s Ready.gov site to read about what your 72-hour kit should contain. I know that some local hardware stores in this area sell 72-hour kits already packed in backpacks. With a minor amount of effort and money, you could have your 72-hour kits ready and available for the time when you need it. I know of one family that has a 72-hour kit backpack hanging ready in the garage for each family member. While you are at it, you could also have a kit for your office. You never know where you may be when disaster strikes.

While you are outfitting your 72-hour kit, you should also be doing three other things. First, know where and how to shut off the water, electricity, and gas at your home. Some homes were spared additional destruction after the Teton Dam broke because the owners turned off the gas and electricity before they fled. I guess they could have turned off their water too, but with the amount coming from the dam, I think that would have been a wasted effort.

Second, there should be someone your family can call to report in after a disaster. For instance, after an earthquake, everyone could call Grandma in another state and explain the situation. After a disaster, the phone lines are usually taxed to their limit as people try to call loved ones; it’s better and easier on the phone lines to contact a single source.

Third, learn what the possible disasters are in your area and devise plans to handle them. This means that my wife and I should know what to do in case of earthquake, volcanic eruption, or the sudden advent of hippies. And since we live downstream from a dam, we should also pay attention to what happened in Idaho 30 years ago.

While we can’t stop natural disasters, we can certainly be prepared for them. And “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” D&C 38:29-30

Imagine you are busy running errands in town. You park and dash into various stores, checking off your list of Honey Do’s as you go along. Everything is going rather well, and you found that extra on-sale item that will bring a smile to your loved one’s face. Whistling, you head back to your vehicle in high spirits, only to have them dashed. There’s a ticket under the windshield wiper. You check — nope, not parked in front of the fire hydrant. No, the parking meter didn’t run out. Then you pick up the ticket and realize that it wasn’t put there by the police. It was placed on your windshield by an environmentalist group, chiding you for owning a gas-guzzling vehicle and warning you of the dangers of driving your SUV.

These anti-SUV tickets can be found (and purchased) at EarthOnEmpty.com. In the words of Earth On Empty’s founders: “We came together because of our frustration with SUVs, the US oil and environmental policies, and our desire to make people think about the impact of their consumer choices has on their neighbors.” You can see the outside of the ticket here or the inside here. The text is a basic collection of “SUVs suck” facts, all of which boil down to the common liberal notion that they know better than you how to spend your car-purchasing dollars.

The Pirate King once expressed her contempt for the purchasing choice of someone driving by in a new Hummer. She pointed out that the person could have spent half the cost on a really nice car, and used the rest of the purchase price to help people in need. While it could be argued that her idea is more noble, I responded that we in the U.S. have the right to choose how we spend our own money. Yes, this person could have donated the whole price of the Hummer to charity. But the spending of that money is not my decision, nor is it my wife’s decision, and it is certainly not the decision of the buttinskis at Earth On Empty. The decision of how to spend your discretionary income rests solely with you, the owner of that income.

If you manage your money so that you can cover both your needs and some of your wants, and still have enough to provide for the needs of others — as with the recent disasters in the U.S. and abroad — then I salute you. But even if you choose to spend a large sum on just a new Hummer, then go ahead. It’s your money, after all. The Hummer dealership will thank you, the people who manufactured your Hummer will thank you, and the people who service your Hummer will thank you, too. Your purchase choice will benefit them all. And when it comes down to what you do with your money, shouldn’t it be your choice?

What the Earth On Empty folks don’t seem to realize is that the free market will handle the SUV issue, and it will do so far better than they could with all their obnoxious fake tickets. With the recent fluctuations in oil prices, the price of gas has increased this year by 50 cents or more per gallon. People at my work have been lamenting the high price of gas, asking why President Bush couldn’t just wave his hand and fix the price at a more sane level than the almost $3/gallon gas we’ve had here. I suggested that since they were rooting for a price fix, I would like to see the price of gas set at 25 cents per gallon. That would make filling up the car much easier on the pocketbook. They all agreed that would be nice. Then I pointed out what happened here in the U.S. the last time the price of gas was fixed artificially below its real price to produce — long lines and gas shortages.

When the price of gas — or of any product — is artificially held below its production cost, then where is the incentive for people to limit their gas consumption? And if the price is kept low, where is the incentive for people to produce the gas? Had President Bush stepped in and fixed the price of a gallon of gas, people would be buying up that cheap gas as fast as they could, whether or not they actually needed it. And since there would be little or no incentive to produce the gas at a financial loss, the supply of gas would go down.

The equation is simple: High demand + low supply + fixed cost = rationing and shortages. Would you like to go back to the long gas lines of the ’70s? I’ll give that a miss, thanks.

But President Bush didn’t step into the market and behave like a bull in a china shop. He reasoned, and rightly so, that the rising price of gas would automatically result in a drop in demand. Our wedding anniversary happened to coincide with the time Hurricane Katrina was hampering domestic oil distribution and causing national gas prices to rise. Though we had originally planned to drive 90 minutes into the city for a weekend romp, we saved our money and gas by staying close to home instead. And we were not alone in doing this; due to the high cost of gas, many people have voluntarily limited their travel and thus their gas expenditures. This reduction in demand resulted in — surprise, surprise — a drop in gas prices. Actually, this would only be a surprise to someone who believes that the market behaves best when the government is at the helm.

There is a word to describe people who believe that the government should “fix” the market — Marxists.

We have had over 70 years of watching Marxists and Communists try to compete with free capitalist societies, and the verdict is in — as an economic theory, Marxism bites. It has failed every time it has been tried. Marxism worked about as well as environmental busybodying does by folks like Earth On Empty, who believe “raising awareness” does anything other than annoy people.

Disaster is a flaming-hot crucible that changes people. It burns away the veneer of social graces, those extraneous bits we present to others, and reveals our true nature. During the crucible of tragedy of the Twin Towers, some people fled, shoving and trampling others in their rush to get to safety, while some deliberately put their lives on the line to help friends or strangers. In the disaster that is Katrina, we have seen true heroes like the doctors and nurses doing everything they can to keep hospital patients alive while the rising waters knocked out their power. We have seen people risk their lives to rescue others. Sometimes they were pulling their loved ones out of the water, but many times the people were strangers. Regardless, these people helped.

But not everyone rises to the occasion. Too often the base and violent aspects of human nature are revealed. In the wake of most disasters, looters crawl out of the wreckage and work their destruction on a neighborhood already reeling from pain. I do not blame the people who broke into a supermarket to retrieve necessary food, water and medicine. They did what they had to do to stay alive. Nor do I blame the good-hearted people who rooted for necessary items like diapers, medicines and food and brought them to suffering thousands in the Superdome. But I do not understand people who looted luxury goods, items they wanted but did not need. Gold jewelry is pretty, but it isn’t edible, and you can’t boil water with the 39″ TV you just obtained via a “Katrina discount.” I can understand getting some clean clothes if everything you own has been washed away, but I have difficulty seeing the need for an armful of designer jeans. I guess it is the difference between needs and wants. You need that food, but you only want that Xbox.

Why do people loot the things they want rather than the things they need? During the L.A. riots after the Rodney King trial, some people availed themselves of a “riot discount” at stores in their neighborhoods. A common justification I heard was that the store owners charged too much for their goods, and the looters were therefore entitled to take what they wanted. The key word in that excuse is “entitled.” The looters didn’t earn these goods, but because they wanted the stuff and because they felt they should by rights have the stuff, they took it. “I want it, therefore it’s mine” describes the feeling of entitlement. If you look around, you can see a certain percentage of people expressing the feeling that just because they exist, they should get. Young children often express this feeling of entitlement, but responsible parents teach them that this is not the way the world works. At some point, a child has to learn that he will not get that new toy just because he wants it. Unfortunately, not everyone learns this lesson in childhood.

New York City is huge. There have been massive power failures in this metropolis on three different occasions: 1965, 1977, and 2003. When the power went out in 1965, the people sat in the stranded subway cars singing, telling stories, and passing around any food and drink they had on hand. When the power went out twelve years later, in 1977, there was widespread looting. Why the difference? What changed in a single decade to turn the people of New York from peaceful chatting to lawless looting? It was the same city and the same kind of blackout; the one variable that changed was people’s attitudes. I can only point to President Johnson’s War on Poverty as the reason for this attitude change. Johnson’s “Great Society” programs were created to bring the poor and impoverished out of their miserable state, but that didn’t happen; instead, we have more poor today than in the 1960s. Quinn’s First Law explains why that didn’t happen: “Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent.” By 1977, there had been a decade of handouts to the poor; coupled with those handouts was the expressed belief that the poor were entitled to get what they did because their lives were bad. I believe it was this new sense of entitlement that fueled the looting in 1977. When people saw others looting, they felt the need to get what they deserved before others beat them to it, so they joined in. I would have expected the same kind of looting during the 2003 blackout, but there was one major variable that changed it — September 11th, 2001. I firmly believe that, had the 2003 blackout happened in 2000, the looting would have been widespread. But since the blackout took place after 9/11, the people of New York had forged a new sense of community; they were less inclined to take things from others in their community. And having seen so many police and firefighters lay down their lives in 2001, I think the quick deployment of uniformed officers also helped stem the looting in 2003.

Another type of person to rise up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the hater. These are they who shake their fists at President Bush, their mayor, and their governor, and hate them all for not being there for them. Professor Ron Walters of the University of Maryland said, “Black people are mad because they feel the reason for the slow response is because those people are black and they didn’t support George Bush.” I cannot and do not believe that Hurricane Katrina relief was slow in coming because so many people affected are black. For one thing, I distinctly remember hearing on the news a general sense of relief that the hurricane wasn’t nearly as bad as people had anticipated. It wasn’t until the news came that the levee had broken that people realized how much damage had been done. Jesse Jackson didn’t outright label racism as the reason for a slow aid response, but he believed it was a factor. He said, “We [Americans] have an amazing tolerance for black pain.” I can only speak for myself, but I have a low tolerance for pain in others. That is why my wife and I have decided to do our part to help, rather than pointing a finger of hate and crying “racism.”

Speaking of pointing a finger, there is a final group I will discuss: those who are busy pointing the finger of blame. Some are outraged that Secretary of State Condi Rice went shopping and attended a play while others in the federal government were burning the midnight oil to aid the hurricane sufferers. But in none of the articles and blogs I read did anyone point out that the responsibilities of the Secretary of State are largely foreign in nature. That is why Secretary Rice is usually sent to visit other heads of state around the world. There are others in the federal government with the actual responsibility of dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, and they have been working. I have written how people have been blaming President Bush and America for causing global warming that they believe created the hurricane. People are also blaming President Bush for not evacuating Louisiana and Mississippi, but they seem to ignore the fact that it is the primary responsibility of city mayors and state governors to move their people in times of danger. The federal government cannot jump in unless it is invited, and the invitation didn’t come in a timely manner. Senator Hillary Clinton has called for a “9/11-style probe” into the federal government’s response to the hurricane. But as more and more news comes out about the 9/11 Commission and how it ignored the Able Danger reports, I’m skeptical that this is the type of probe we need. I do know that this is not the time to start laying blame. We will need a good, complete investigation to see why plans that called for using school and city buses to move the people out of New Orleans were not followed, but that can wait until the people are safe. Now is the time to aid, not blame — no matter how easy or tempting it is to point the finger of blame at someone.

My wife was looking at these looters, haters, and blamers and trying to figure out the right word to describe them. We agreed that the most descriptive word is “ghouls,” the monsters who feed off the dead. She also found a poem, a section of which seems most appropriate:

And the people — ah, the people –
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone –
They are neither man nor woman –
They are neither brute nor human –
They are Ghouls…

– Edgar Allan Poe, “The Bells”

It’s all global warming, dontchaknow. Hurricane Katrina smashed its way across the U.S. because of global warming. Any winter that is extra cold or extra warm was caused by global warming. Whether the summer is wet or dry, it’s caused by global warming. Whether the Pacific is dominated by El Niño or La Niña, the cause is global warming. If you haven’t picked up the thread already, fans of the global warming theory view just about everything as being caused by global warming.

Even as terrible as the devastation from Hurricane Katrina has been, I didn’t think it would take long for people to start placing the blame for it on global warming, and — by extension — America. Sadly, I didn’t have to wait very long. German newspaper Der Spiegel quickly posted the following:

The toughest commentary of the day comes from Germany’s Environmental Minister, Jürgen Trittin, a Green Party member, who takes space in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a paper friendly with the Social Democrats, to bash US President George W. Bush’s environmental laxity. He begins by likening the photos and videos of the hurricane stricken areas to scenes from a Roland Emmerich sci-fi film and insists that global warming and climate change are making it ever more likely that storms and floods will plague America and Europe. “There is only one possible route of action,” he writes. “Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced and it has to happen worldwide. Until now, the US has kept its eyes shut to this emergency. (Americans) make up a mere 4 percent of the population, but are responsible for close to a quarter of emissions.” He adds that the average American is responsible for double as much carbon dioxide as the average European. “The Bush government rejects international climate protection goals by insisting that imposing them would negatively impact the American economy. The American president is closing his eyes to the economic and human costs his land and the world economy are suffering under natural catastrophes like Katrina and because of neglected environmental policies.” As such, Trittin also calls for a reworking of the Kyoto Protocol — dubbing it the uncreative title of “Kyoto 2″ — and insisting that the US be included.

So it’s somehow President Bush’s fault that the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 1999, two years before Bush even took office. Now that’s understandable. But it’s not just the Germans who are bashing the President and Republicans for global warming. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has also jumped on the bandwagon with a recent post to Arianna Huffington’s blog that blames Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour for failing to reduce CO2 emissions in the U.S., thus contributing to global warming. I have already written about why CO2 isn’t the horrible global threat the Leftists make it out to be. It comprises less than 3% of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, but it’s the one that gets all the press. If the global warming busybodies really wanted to make a dent in greenhouse gases, they’d address water vapor, since water makes up 97% of the greenhouse gases. But they don’t. Even if there were something they could do about water vapor — and there isn’t — you can’t really place restrictions on a substance as vital to human life as water.

Environmentalist RFK Jr. points his finger at Republicans. Germans lay the blame for the Kyoto treaty not being ratified on President Bush. And raving moonbat Cindy Sheehan added, “And, should I dare say ‘global warming?’ and be branded as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ on top of everything else the reich-wingers say about me.” Ever the soul of tact and compassion, that lady. Depending on the sources to whom you listen, scientists are linking hurricanes with global warming — or not. Steven Milloy of JunkScience.com has written about this scientific tug-of-war for Fox News. He points up the scientific laxity in the claims of those who see global warming behind Katrina, and sums up with the following statement:

While Hurricane Katrina was very bad weather, that is a very long way from causally linking her with human activity. Global warmers may dispute that, but they’ll need more than naked assertions and junk science to make a case.

With a nod to Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog, there are some things we know and don’t know about global warming. These are three things Meyer identifies as known:

  1. Proven: Man-made CO2 has increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (best evidence from ice cores and samplings in Hawaii).
  2. Proven: Temperatures in the world have risen since 1900 (though perhaps less than typically reported due to under-correction for urban heat-island effects).
  3. Proven: The temperature rise in the first half of the 1900s was not man-made, having occurred before substantial man-made CO2 production, and therefore is attributable to some other (disputed and/or unknown) effect.

Meyer then outlines three things that have not yet been proven and are still up for debate:

  1. In Dispute: How much of the world temperature rise since 1950 was due to man-made CO2 output? Some unknown phenomena caused a pre-1950 rise, leaving open the question of how much this other phenomena raised temperatures in the latter half of the 1900s and how much was due to man-made CO2.
  2. In Dispute: How much will the world’s temperature rise in the future due to man-made CO2? Climate is a complex animal, and no honest-thinking climate scientists believe they have the right model yet, particularly since none of the most-used models explain history very well. Also, beyond climate, the economic models that drive CO2 levels in the climate model are hugely flawed, causing the models to way over-estimate man-made CO2 production.
  3. In Dispute: What are the positives and negatives of global warming for humans? The negatives are dealt with all too casually, in the sort of unproven scare story day-after-tomorrow unscientific approach that makes good NY Times Sunday Edition reading but does little to introduce any facts. The positives are never, ever mentioned. “Disinterested” climate scientists never mention that some parts of the world will benefit, in terms of longer growing seasons, or that most of the warming will occur in winter nights in the coldest regions, where warming would be welcome. Its almost as if they weren’t disinterested and had an interest in the answer coming out a certain way.

But there is one aspect of global warming that isn’t even being discussed by people on the Left:

  1. Not Even Addressed: How do the costs of limiting CO2 emissions, including decreased economic growth and increased poverty, stand up against the dangers? No one has done a good study of this, though people like Bjorn Lomburg have argued that the cost-benefit is much worse than solving some of the world’s other problems.

But for those people whose one and only drum is the bang bang bang of global warming, the earth is being destroyed at the hands of mankind. While it can be shown that the earth is warming, it is also true that the earth goes through cycles of warming and cooling, and our sun is currently in an active hot phase. And contrary to what environmentalists like RFK Jr. would have you believe, it has not been proven that mankind is responsible. Not that the lack of proof is stopping them. Expect to hear and read more people lay the blame for Katrina at the feet of mankind in general, and to place special blame on Republicans and President Bush.


Since Katrina has done its evil work, it is now our responsibility to help those who have been ravaged by it. I support LDS Humanitarian Services for charitable donations. While there are plenty of other organizations who do excellent work, 100% of all donations made to LDS Humanitarian Services go to the affected areas in the form of money and needed supplies. (Sure beats the way the U.S. Welfare system gobbles up 75 cents of every dollar it taxes from us.)

It’s our duty to help these people. They are our families, our neighbors, our friends and our fellow Americans. So let’s get to it.