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Not even censorship could keep Iowans from talking about the weather
by Dan Brawner Columnist · November 2nd, 2017

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly blocked three of their scientists from scheduled discussions on climate change at a conference in Rhode Island. Protests quickly erupted, with demonstrators marching outside the Providence event, wearing tape over their mouths and carrying signs reading, "Un-gag science." It was a peaceful gathering and, for an angry protest, remarkably quiet.

Although you have to give these Rhode Island folks credit for being so polite, you can be sure Iowans would have handled the conference differently. For one thing, nobody - not the EPA, not the White House - could keep Iowans from talking about the weather.

Take today, for example - this being Tuesday the 24th of October. According to the National Weather Service, the average high temperature is 62 degrees with a low of 40. Today, it probably won't even hit 50 degrees, but a couple of days ago, it was over 80. On this date back in 1889, it was a record-setting 82 degrees, and in 1895 the record low was a bone-chilling 15 degrees! That is an astonishing range. I don't know much about Rhode Island, but Iowa's weather is so interesting we just have to talk about it. We can't help it.

On this date in 1937, Buffalo, New York, had six inches of slush that held up traffic pretty much all day. And in 1989, Lake Tahoe, California, famous for its skiing, reported three feet of snow! Just imagine. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma came howling down on Everglades, Florida, with 170 mph winds like some world-ending curse straight out of the Old Testament. What does the EPA think we want to talk about? Pesticides? Well, sure. Pesticides and clean water and clean air and endangered species. But we still get to talk about the weather, okay?

Talking about the weather is a higher evolutionary human trait - like an opposable thumb or the ability to use tools. Discussing, analyzing and complaining about the weather is evidence of advanced cognitive ability and is our most basic interaction with the world in general. Weather gives us commonality and maybe an opportunity to gloat at those who are otherwise more fortunate. "For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

Weather and climate have been the inspiration for some of the greatest monuments throughout human civilization, like Stonehenge, which was basically a big stone clock that told people when to plant crops so that the seeds wouldn't freeze or dry up and would have enough time to mature. This was life-and-death stuff.

Tom Borden, the director of the Narragansette Bay Estuary Program where the Providence conference is being held, was dismayed that the EPA representatives were prevented from speaking. He told the Providence Journal, "It's a little chilling." Which is a pretty good joke coming from a climate scientist.

It's a shame Borden's conference was censored by the EPA. But the next big conference on climate change should be held in Iowa, where no amount of government red tape could shut our mouths about the weather.
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