The latest conspiracy theory seems to involve weather control and boy, is it popular. That's right-if you believe the conspiracy theorists, the weather is not only out of our hands, but in the hands of someone else.
Did you know that Hurricane Katrina wasn't an accident? Nope. It was revenge by the Yakuza on the U.S. The conspiracy theorists won't tell you why, exactly, the Yakuza would want to slam a hurricane into New Orleans, but they'll tell you exactly where they think the Yakuza got their weather control technology: the Russian KGB, of course.
Conspiracy theories about the weather are perennially attractive. The weather is constantly changing and uncontrollable. Think of how many times you've started off your morning watching the Weather Channel to see what the skies might dump on you today. It's therefore easy to find any patterns in the weather. They all show up at some point.
Also, some of the trends in the past couple of decades do look scary and the proponents and opponents of global warming don't help. The proponents, for example, are alarmists basing their doomsday theories on incomplete data. The trends that appear to indicate global warming are based on less than two hundred years of accurate weather measurement. Ice cores of earlier periods in the Arctic and Antarctica help fill in some gaps. But they don't quite make up for the type of measurements we do today but didn't do centuries ago.
Also, those cores tell an interesting story that over the past two thousand years, global temperature has changed quite a bit. Yet humanity is still here. We could survive the future that global-warming advocates predict. Why not? Our ancestors did. So, what we see as human-made global warming could just be a blip on the radar screen of geological history. In fact, it probably is.
But the opponents of global warming ignore some important points in this debate. Whether or not humans are influencing the weather globally, they can influence it locally and that's not good. The infamous "London Fog" that pervaded London from the 17th to mid-20th centuries, for example, was caused by pollution. This phenomenon is most famous for hiding villains like Jack the Ripper, but it also made a lot of Londoners sick and shortened their lives considerably. Regardless of whether or not pollution and deforestation cause global warming, they do worsen the environment where they occur. Tropical Cyclone Eline flooded out Mozambique in February 2000. Some scientists blamed global warming for the strength of the cyclone, but much of the devastation occurred because deforestation had denuded the countryside. The result? Thousands of acres of farmland washed away as the floods raged unchecked by their usual barrier, the rainforest.
Similarly, New Orleans was not devastated by Category 4 Hurricane Katrina (though surrounding areas certainly were). It was washed out when levees constructed over the past three centuries to keep back the waters broke in the wake of hurricane flooding. Local and federal officials knew that the levees weren't good enough if a hurricane higher than Category 3 ever hit. But they allowed people to keep draining the wetlands that had naturally protected New Orleans from storms and to keep building below sea level, anyway. It wasn't cost effective, they thought, to take preventative measures. Severe flooding had occurred the last time New Orleans was hit by a hurricane in 1965, but since that was thirty years ago, nobody cared. Of course, in thirty years, you'd have thought they could have built stronger levees, too.
But this points to the final and big reason why weather control conspiracy theories are so popular-they're easy. If the Yakuza or the KGB or the U.S. government are manipulating the weather, what can a poor citizen do? Why bother to conserve energy, vote, recycle and use your own land wisely when you can blame it all on a higher human power? It's also comforting to think that someone down here on Planet Earth is in control of natural forces, even if that someone is evil. It's too scary to think that such a powerful force as the weather is beyond our control.
Nope. It must have been the Yakuza.