Why Aren't We Talking About The Weather?

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How can the gargantuan elephant in the room, the technological creation of weather disasters, continue to go ‘unnoticed’? What is the epistemology of this peculiar situation?

I am referring to the branch of philosophy, call Epistemology, that inquires about the process of thinking. Although neuroscience and psychology have largely taken over that area of inquiry, the label ‘epistemological’ is still appropriate for the question of why people might deal with a particular subject (in this case, the weather) in a stupid way.

In my opinion, many recent weather events, such as tornados, earthquakes, floods, and bushfires, are maliciously man-made. The question I pose is: How is it that many people who have heard of the existence of ‘weather weapons’ refrain from pursuing the matter?

Wouldn’t it be more normal for them to talk it up, either for self-preservation or out of plain intellectual fascination? For instance, once you have heard that rainmaking is now ‘ordinary,’ wouldn’t you want to question the continuing occurrence of droughts? As far as I am aware, no country need ever suffer drought again!

Granted, some people have honestly never heard that weather can be tampered with on a grand scale. I don’t know how many of those persons there are; they might even constitute a majority of the population, but they are not the subject of this article. This is strictly about persons who do realize that Hurricane Katrina and the eruption of Iceland’s volcano were most likely planned.

It’s a very large group: those who now stand in line to be on the receiving end of the next bunch of tornados, floods, etc. I believe that by talking, such persons could improve their situation, that is, they could do something to prevent these ‘natural’ disasters from happening. So there must be some strong factors causing their silence.

My analysis will be limited to Americans. It appears from the Internet that Europeans are more willing than Americans to discuss ‘weather war.’ I lack data about the views of South Americans, Asians, or Africans, but they would predictably like to throw some blame at the holders of advanced technology. (Pakistanis have blame Yanks for the floods; a Venezuelan leader says we quaked Haiti.)

Which Weather Events Are in the News?

On December 26, 2004 the word ‘tsunami’ entered our vocabulary.
That tidal wave, hitting the islands of Indonesia and the east coast of India, was quite a shock to the world. Deaths were estimated to be a quarter of a million. (I recall a donation box at the teller’s window of my local bank in which we could send ‘relief.’ Fathom it!) Just over nine months later, on August 29, 2005, the United States’ gulf coast was hit by Hurricane Katrina, another amazing occurrence.

In the last three and a half years we have experienced major events frequently. For example:

  • Volcano in Iceland (April, 2010), and in Chile (June, 2011)
  • Tornados in America’s heartland (May, 2011)
  • Bushfires in California (May, 2009), and in Australia (February, 2009)
  • Floods in Pakistan (August, 2010) and in Australia (December, 2010)
  • Earthquake in China (May, 2008) and in Haiti (January, 2010)
  • Heat wave in Argentina (August, 2009), and in US (July, 2011)
  • Tsunami in Japan (March, 2011)
A Few Ordinary, Justifiable Reasons for the Silence

In an effort to explain the lack of public discussion about the ’causes’ of these weather events, I begin by listing four items. These have merely to do with general habits of thinking.

Firstly, the weather phenomena are not new. Fires and floods are a normal part of history. Since they have not previously triggered public debate, it seems comfortable to refrain from conducting such a debate now.

Secondly, most individuals feel embarrassed if they start to talk, and then a more in-the-know person chimes in with comments that ‘show them up’. After making a perfectly respectable layperson’s observation “That fire burned much more aggressively than I’ve seen before,” one might be told that the amount of dry tinder would explain it. (“You dummy.”)

Thirdly, any hint that weather is a weapon will cause a wall of patriotic protection to rise up. One should simply never peer into the fact that one’s own nation may have an interest in hurting another nation. To say that this is not table talk is an understatement. For most people it is utterly forbidden. The rule applies to any issue of foreign policy; not just weather war.

Fourthly, most people get their news from television, and the way it is delivered by the newsreader has a natural effect. If the reader reports an event using a tone of condemnation we are likely to evaluate that event emotionally. If the reader narrates, in a fairly unexcited tone, “the Mississippi has just overflowed,” we can stay relatively cool.

It Must Be That Folks Are Intimidated

The above reasons why people might refrain from chatting about the rather obvious possibility of weather-tampering are not the ones that I am keen to delve into. I identified them mainly so we can lay them aside. Granted they are ‘epistemological’; they influence our thought processes. But I am trying to explain the amazing case of people choosing to suppress a subject that bears directly on their survival. What is going on inside their brain?

One thing I have noticed, when I have dared to mouth the subject of weather war, is that someone usually demands proof. It is as though everyone must suddenly honor the formalities of a court of law. You can get away with the casual remark “Woolworth’s is going to buy out Macy’s next year” without a neighbor saying “How do you know that?” but if you mention “earthquakes” you had better have excellent evidence at hand.

The person who demands the proof does not, however, want you to supply it. She is hoping to end the conversation. (I note that when I make an unwanted statement about possible malice, my challengers NEVER ask me to cough up what I really know. They change the subject rapidly.)

They are censoring their own brain. I venture to guess that any quick self-censorship done by a citizen is based on fear. I recognize some “Don’t go there” areas in my own life that are sad or scary, and I sure as heck don’t go there.

Of course, that way of dealing was not invented by me on the day I first needed it! Every psychologist knows that it is a hard-wired species trait of Homo sapiens. Indeed all mammals have ways to resolve the painful emotion of fear. When a fearsome predator approaches, they instinctively defend aggressively or run. “Fight or flight.” Upon hearing “weather weapon” most humans resolve the painful emotion of fear by fleeing from the topic!

There’s another aspect to the intimidation of the public today, although it isn’t one of the mental habits being aired here; it is external. I refer to the veritable army of disinformation artists who make it hard to know the truth. And a separate army, of defamers, lurks around any person who does dare tell the truth, pouncing swiftly on his/her reputation. (Isn’t it fun to imagine them reporting their income to IRS as “paid smearers”?)

From the Epistemological to the “Therapeutic”

Let’s now depart from the subject of epistemology. Surely the major explanation for how folks can see a definite danger, and yet shrink from taking survival action, must boil down to fear.

One instinct that helps us avoid the worrying facts can be labeled over-optimism. All animals are constantly calculating risk, and it has been found that humans tend to judge a risk to be lower than is actually is. So, if there’s even a small chance that our city will never suffer the fires, tornados, bombs, or whatever, that we see others suffer, we cling happily to that ‘probability.’

Similarly, there is the natural habit of holding off on a decision for “just a few more days,” and the days can turn into years. (Americans always seem to think that a new election is going to bring some kind of relief from political corruption!) Both this procrastinating behavior, and the aforementioned one of miscalculating risk, can help explain why we are not jumping up and down about the rash of earthquakes today.

I recommend that we look STRAIGHT AT THE FEAR that underlies this peculiar behavior, in the way a therapist trains his patient to dump some of his fantasies, defense mechanisms, and escapist behavior. Can a practical solution to our problem emerge from an understanding of what’s going on in the old noodle? I think so!

So, then, I propose that we agree, loudly, that there’s a huge amount of fear going on in our country today. Why wouldn’t there be? Our house might get flooded, or our child may get hit by a falling roof in an earthquake. Those things are pretty unbearable to think about.

Ah, how did we deal in the old days with troubles? No doubt we did a fair amount of switching off, but if the threatened trouble was coming at us from an enemy we could at least fight against him. We have our ways of putting anger to use. We’re built for it.

I think we should try some new mental exercising in regard to the threat of weather weapons. Namely, instead of suppressing the worry we should blame it on the appropriate parties. It’s very easy to find out who is doing it. (Pertinent videos are flourishing on Youtube.)

I recommend (seriously) that we get our brains to do what our brains do quite well when the subject of ‘enemy’ comes up. Namely we fight the enemy, we plot against him, we express our absolute disregard for him. Best of all, we buzz around with neighbors, collaborating in this noble endeavor.

Can you think of a reason NOT to do that, with regard to the enemy who brought Katrina (and its rough treatment of citizens) to our shores, who made the Missouri River overflow, who burnt down hundreds of homes in California, and killed off grandmothers with heat waves in New England?

I can’t.

Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB hopes you will reprint this article like mad. Her new website is: kisskiss.us.com