Hurricane Irene: Americans are Talking About the Weather and Saying Nothing

There may be some debate among folklorists about whether or not Mark Twain originated or borrowed the expression: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

But there is no doubt about the James Brown version: “Talking Loud and Saying Nothing.” Mr. J.B., “Soul Brother No. 1” and Bobby Byrd recorded that anthem in 1970, although they did not have the topic “climate change” on their minds at the time. “Like a dull knife, just ain’t cutting. Talking loud and saying nothing.”

Residents of New York City’s Manhattan and some other areas in the path of Hurricane Irene feel like they “dodged a bullet” when the storm spared them from torrential winds and floods. But just a little north of New York, the storm wreaked havoc of Biblical proportions. In Vermont, even after being downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm status, Irene caused the worst natural disaster since the Great Flood of 1927, with waters washing away bridges in the state that have withstood the forces of nature for more than 200 years.

Meanwhile, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), last year, 2010 was the hottest year in the hottest decade ever recorded…ever recorded, ever… The 2010 heat wave in Russia killed an estimated 15,000 people. Apocalyptic floods in Australia and Pakistan killed 2,000 and left large swaths of each country under water.

This year was no better. The U.S. Weather Service announced that July was the hottest month in Washington, D.C. since record keeping began in 1872. In early August, 18 states had temperatures above 100 degrees. Dallas, Texas reported 35 straight days of 100 degree heat. The sustained high temperatures and drought have turned parts of the Southwest and Great Plains into a parched landscape of cracked earth.

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry, leader of the drought-stricken state and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is a climate denier. “I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized,” Gov. Perry said recently. “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly or even daily scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s right, and there are plenty like Perry who argue that the Earth is flat, and can’t be over 6,000 years old, like it says in the Bible. They’re all, “like a dull knife, just ain’t cutting, talking loud and saying nothing.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is no better than Perry. The House Republican majority pushed through legislation recently to overturn a 2007 law, signed by President George W. (for worst in history) Bush, that would gradually phase out old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs in favor of new energy efficient bulbs. Light bulbs!

“Having to buy energy efficient bulbs is an affront to personal freedom,” they said. Never mind the fact that the average homeowner would save almost $90 a year by switching to the energy saving bulbs, and also never mind that the law, once fully implemented, would eventually eliminate the need for 33 large power plants, according to one estimate. They’re arguing about light bulbs, for crying out loud!

“Like a dull knife, just ain’t cutting, talking loud and saying nothing.”

It’s like the 1927 anti-prohibition song which declared: “Fifty-million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.” But if you repeat a lie, often enough, people will eventually accept it as being true, and so they have.

Even with environmental degradation hastening all over the planet, too many Americans want to remain docile in their fossil-fuel, climate-changing, comfort zone, ignoring how people are hastening their own doom.

“Like a dull knife, just ain’t cutting,” as far as the weather is concerned, too many Americans are “just talking loud and saying nothing.”

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