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Thursday, March 1, 2001

The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber

A Monument to the Failure of Public Education in Science and Technology

Pocket Books • 2000 • 255 pages • $23.95

Academics like Your Obedient Servant are instructed that literature has to be analyzed in terms of its social and societal context. From this, I conclude that Art Bell and Whitley Strieber’s The Coming Global Superstorm, more than anything else, is a monument to the failure of public education in science and technology. Otherwise, no one would buy this book.

Despite the protestations by our greener friends that “the climate problem” is the most complex issue ever confronting mankind, it’s really pretty simple. The sun warms the earth, and the warming of the atmosphere creates something called climate. Embedded within climate is day-to-day weather.

According to Bell and Strieber, something very funny is going to happen to the weather. Particularly, history is going to repeat itself. The last time this something happened was about 8,000 years ago, as a result of a nuclear war waged by a society that had already discovered space travel. Bet you didn’t know that!

What happened then and will happen again soon is that the stratosphere and the troposphere will change places. The latter is the bottom 80 percent of the atmosphere, and it is largely separated from the layer above it by something called physics. A bit of air exchanges each year, but owing to the fact that temperatures are uniform in the stratosphere (“stratified”) there’s little vertical motion.

The two layers will turn over, the authors say, as a result of the unhappy combination of the fact that the solar ascendant sign has shifted from Pisces to Aquarius and the fact that we are burning fossil fuels, causing global warming. Suddenly the temperature of the high latitudes drops 15 degrees, while the rest of the planet is outrageously hot. As the cold stratospheric air flips over the moisture-laden troposphere, a hemispheric scale low-pressure system produces hundreds of feet of snow. It drops 100 degrees in one hour in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The snow stops between New York and Baltimore, thank God, so that the federal government is still here to save us. (Some writers never give up on their philosophy.)

Subsequently, much of the snow melts, creating a huge flood that kills just about everyone left. Then the eternal whiteness of being sets in (because there’s still a lot of snow left over), and an ice age ensues. In the end, searchers discover some people alive in New York City, who kept themselves alive by burning books. The Coming Global Superstorm should have been one of them.

Stupidity sells. At the time of this writing, Bell and Strieber’s fairy tale for gullible adults book is listed #6, out of nearly 6,400 “Environmental Science” titles listed at Perhaps worse are the online reviews. Most people believe this stuff! Well, what do you expect, when the current Maryland “Standards of Learning” exam requires students to show how astrology determines their lives. I guess the acceptance of this egregious nonsense isn’t surprising. After all, Strieber got to tout his book on Today with Katie Couric, who couldn’t come up with anything resembling a reasonable question. The least she could have asked was, “Mr. Strieber, in your last book you say you were ‘probed,’ I can’t say where on this show, by aliens. Isn’t it true that this is where you were given the knowledge to write this book?”

The answer, unfortunately, is in the affirmative. Which goes to show where our heads are on the issue of climate change.

One more important nugget. The reason that we don’t stop global warming enough to prevent the coming global superstorm is the activities of a small but “highly activist coal company [called] Western Fuels,” which “maintain[s] a cadre of individuals with university degrees who skillfully drain the issue of all sense of crisis.” That’s me, folks! Thanks, Bell and Strieber, but it’s not Western Fuels and six college professors who are somehow endangering the entire world. It’s the stupidity that surrounds global warming hysteria.

Patrick Michaels is professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and author of The Satanic Gases.