In his new book, “America in Retreat,” Bret Stephens tells a story about Pakistan. After the country was rocked by floods in 2010, “a conspiracy theory that made the rounds in the Pakistani media held that it was the doing of a weather-controlling device based in Alaska,” he writes.
A weather-controlling device.
Turn the dial one way, and deliver rain in Pakistan. Turn it another, and deliver drought elsewhere. It’s been the dream of would-be dictators for centuries. “Pay us what we demand, or we’ll destroy your economy!” the person at the controls of such an invention could insist.
Luckily, it’s an impossible dream.
The climate, as everyone knows, is simply too large and fluid to be controlled by a single machine. Still, you don’t have to go all the way to Pakistan to find people who think that Americans are controlling the weather.
“You have fires, you have droughts,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy tells USA Today. Humans, she hints, are to blame for these disasters. That’s supposedly the reason Americans need to reduce our carbon output.
As weather patterns change, McCarthy adds, Americans will bear the burden. “This is about their own jobs, their own health, their own kids,” she says.
According to this narrative, the American economy itself is a vast weather-controlling machine. The carbon we emit as we manufacture products, as we generate energy, and as we drive to work goes into the atmosphere and causes fires in some places, droughts in others.
The difference is that, unlike the Pakistani fantasy machine in Alaska, nobody is actually controlling this weather machine. The machine is simply running amok, causing environmental destruction and endangering our nation and our planet.
EPA’s reaction to this unintentional machine is a bit different, too. Instead of insisting you pay up, it insists its moves will pay off.
“Every time that EPA has moved forward on a major law, industry or others have raised concerns, some of them in ways that I don’t think are really as honest about what the rule looks like,” McCarthy told USA Today. “In the end, when you move, they run and they make money off it. It’s going to be the same here.”
There’s no doubt Americans will make money, no matter what happens. We’ve been doing so since we were British colonists, existing on the edge of a vast, untamed continent.
The question is: Will we make money doing productive things such as fracking? Or will we do it by finding ways to appease the EPA administrators who think they’re at the controls of Washington’s vast weather machine? Our national future hinges on the answer.