Grand Rapids hit a milestone on Oct. 30. It reached 40 inches of precipitation for 2011. This is the fourth in the last six years the city hit that mark.

Climate-change theory thrives on variability in weather. The October snowstorm in the Northeast provoked a new round of rhetoric. Does Grand Rapids provide more data to be seized for use in the issue?

Its five-year average from 2006 to 2010 is nearly four inches above the 37.13-inch norm. Recent totals include 44.39 inches in 2006, 48.8 inches in 2008 and 42.85 inches in 2009. With the mid-November total already at 41.39 inches, 2011 may well exceed some of those figures.

This trend, if it really is one, inserts complexity into the social phenomenon of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW). The movement has sacrificed the scientific skepticism that seeks destruction of hypotheses as much as confirmation in the pursuit of scientific truth. Instead, the “true believer” mentality grabbed control.

AGW moved into the mainstream during the heat and drought of 1988 and brought about the model that the Midwest was doomed thenceforth to bake and thirst. The irony is that the region had been experiencing such a huge moisture surplus that Lakes Michigan and Huron were at record high levels in 1987. Lake freighters had to creep along the St. Clair River to prevent their wakes from swamping property far inland. An extra rise of even a few inches would mean catastrophic shoreline destruction. Fortunately the 1988 drought swept in with its salvation.

The drought model still prevailed during the low-water period early in the last decade. The shrill argument against diversion of Great Lakes waters was that even on their own the lakes were destined to drop far below previous records and produce catastrophic economic damage.

The AGW lobby has always been resilient, even renaming its issue as “climate change” (ACC). The prospect of pervasive drought has been replaced by “droughts and floods.” The new catch-all phrase for ACC effects, of which the Northeastern snowstorm allegedly added ammunition, is that there will be “more extremes.” Thus has subjectivity been exalted to replace objective science.

Applying such nebulous concepts facilitates the task of concocting even more pending catastrophes: The ACC lobbyists identify atmospheric carbon dioxide as their chief culprit. Its concentrations have been increasing for at least 70 years. Relatively early during that span Lakes Michigan and Huron recorded historic low levels in 1964. A “droughts and floods” overbalancing in favor of the latter brought those levels up in only 23 years to record highs in 1987. Subsequently the “more extremes” reversed the equation and dropped levels to near-record lows in only 16 years.

Meanwhile, Grand Rapids keeps experiencing 40-inch-plus annual precipitation, which has caused local flooding as added evidence we are experiencing “more extremes.” This year, Lakes Michigan and Huron have been running at about two feet higher than the record lows. This can be extrapolated to produce, abetted by the Grand Rapids factor, disastrously high lake levels in less than a century. If the “more extremes” become even more extreme, the doomsday may arrive much sooner.

Weak science is easy to twist. Its prime value is that it is politically profitable. It even serves up a whole new policy issue — how to get rid of excess Great Lakes waters when the shorelines are again awash as in 1987.

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Daniel Hager is an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.