Lowell Ponte offers up a, shall we say, novel explanation of Hurricane SAndy in his Oct. 29 Newsmax column:
In our new book "The Great Debasement: The 100-Year Dying of the Dollar and How to Get America's Money Back," economic expert Craig R. Smith and I devote an entire chapter to evidence that recent devastating weather has happened because America's climate is returning to "normal."
Normal meant that pioneers on the Oregon Trail in the 1850s described Nebraska as America's "Inland Desert" and saw it as a land of buffalo grass and cactus, not cornstalks.
As Ken Burns will show in his PBS documentary "The Dust Bowl" in mid-November, government encouraged farmers to settle and plow the Great Plains, semi-arid lands where drought comes often and the land could easily become an "American Sahara" without irrigation.
The continuing drought that ravaged crops last summer was by some measures the worst since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
The Dust Bowl was actually four different droughts packed into a few years, scientists now know, and the continuing drought that began last summer has been more severe than any one of those four Dust Bowl droughts.
Most of us grew up during the 20th Century, which enjoyed the balmiest, friendliest weather of the past 1,000 years. Now, however, our weather and climate appear to be reverting to their more erratic normal, with wilder extremes of hot and cold, wet and dry.
Ponte does not offer any evidence to back up his claim, nor does offer himself to be any sort of expert on climatology. And that's not surprising, considering that he goes on to suggest that the drought of earlier this year was because America had lost favor with God:
"When drought and other weather disasters struck ancient China," Craig Smith and I write in The Great Debasement, "some people took this as evidence that their Emperor had lost divine favor, that he had 'lost the Mandate of Heaven' and should be replaced to restore harmony between heaven and earth, between humankind and nature, and to bring back divine blessing to the land."
"The Bible likewise comprehends a link between virtue and the blessing of good weather," we wrote, quoting two Biblical passages as examples.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last July told reporters who were asking him about the drought that "I get on my knees every day, and I'm saying an extra prayer right now. If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it."
President Obama's own secretary of Agriculture apparently believes that God influences our weather, and that human behavior can affect this.
Our modern scientific culture teaches that devastating weather can be caused by human transgression — by the sin of polluting the environment.
Modern sophisticates would scoff at all ancient beliefs that strange and destructive weather events may be omens that our leaders have lost the mandate of Heaven and should be replaced.
In other words, Ponte is not the guy you want doing your weather report.