Posted by | December 26, 2011 10:19 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

As 2011 draws to a close, it is worthwhile to note that it has been a crazy year for weather.  How crazy?

A typical year in this country features three or four weather disasters whose costs exceed $1 billion each. But this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tallied a dozen such events, including wildfires in the Southwest, floods in multiple regions of the country and a deadly spring tornado season. And the agency has not finished counting. The final costs are certain to exceed $50 billion.

The most likely culprit is, of course, climate change.  But some of the extreme weather events (such as the tornadoes) may just be a coincidence.  The problem is, we don’t know.  So you would think researching the extreme events would be a good idea.  House Republicans disagree.

This year, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried to push through a reorganization that would have provided better climate forecasts to businesses, citizens and local governments, Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked it. The idea had originated in the Bush administration, was strongly endorsed by an outside review panel and would have cost no extra money. But the House Republicans, many of whom reject the overwhelming scientific consensus about the causes of global warming, labeled the plan an attempt by the Obama administration to start a “propaganda” arm on climate.

It’s like burying your head in the sand will make the problem go away.  It won’t.  Here’s an idea, when there is a natural disaster in 2012, any House Republican who opposed better climate forecasts should be prohibited from requesting disaster assistance.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.