walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Cold Weather Across Europe, Asia Kills Hundreds

Cold weather in the past few days has sadly gone from severe to deadly. While unusually high snowfall has disrupted the travel plans of millions of Americans, freezing temperatures have taken the lives of hundreds of people from Central Europe to South Asia. The BBC reports that in Poland, 49 people have died; in Ukraine, 83; in Russia, 88; and in India, at least 93. The majority of those dead are the elderly and the homeless.

Besides being an obvious tragedy for many across the world, this is a reminder that “weather” is not “climate,” unless it suits the needs of environmental hotheads to claim that it is. When there’s a hot spell or a dry spell or a wet spell that can somehow be connected with the climate change narrative, the media resounds with panicky warnings. But when people die of frostbite in Punjab and temperatures hit -58F in Russia, the silence of the alarmists is deafening.

In the past few years we’ve seen climate change blamed for hot weather, for floods and for droughts. It’s been blamed for both the presence and the absence of storms. It’s been blamed for excessive snow as well as for the absence of snow. We don’t blame the smart greens for these recurring epidemics of media foolishness, but we wish they did more to focus the public discussion on practicalities and realities.

For the record, Via Meadia accepts the scientific evidence pointing to rising temperatures around the world. But we remain deeply skeptical that the nostrums proposed by green activists offer much in the way of practical steps, and the more green policies we see that fail due to ‘unexpected’ complications the less confidence we have.

We do, however, think that major economic trends favor a shift of the world economy onto a greener and more sustainable future path. We believe that smart policies aimed at promoting economic growth that advances the transition from a manufacturing to an information based economy will raise living standards and reshape the human footprint on planet earth in beneficial ways.

In addition to everything else, the continuing development of human technological capability and social productivity will also give countries beset with natural calamities the ability to protect their most vulnerable citizens. The path to that kind of safety and sustainability is not through Malthusian hysteria, but through economic growth and modernization. The energy and the passion that green have wasted on failed initiatives like Kyoto, ethanol, solar subsidies, the UN climate treaty process and other fiascoes could, if effectively harnessed, do a lot to make this a better world.

May 2013 see the start of an era of smart greens.

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