A typical year in the U.S. includes three to four extreme weather events that do more than $1 billion in damage, but 2011 featured 12 of them. Add in the slightly-less-expensive extreme weather we experienced, and the total price tag is north of $50 billion.
Scientists say they now have the tools to determine how climate is influencing these extreme weather events, which sounds like a good idea. I mean, if we're tearing the planet apart with our carbon emissions, isn't that something that should be as important to monitor as, say, the activities of Al Qaeda?
Except the political climate means there isn't federal funding available for this kind of research, says a piece by Justin Gillis in the New York Times:
This year, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried to push through a reorganization that would have provided better climate forecasts to businesses, citizens and local governments, Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked it. The idea had originated in the Bush administration, was strongly endorsed by an outside review panel and would have cost no extra money. But the House Republicans, many of whom reject the overwhelming scientific consensus about the causes of global warming, labeled the plan an attempt by the Obama administration to start a “propaganda” arm on climate.
God forbid our best scientists should be allowed to "propagandize" about the greatest threat to human civilization since the invention of the atomic bomb.
Harsh Political Reality Slows Climate Studies Despite Extreme Year, New York Times.