Every time it seems American foreign policy couldn't get any worse, Secretary of State John Kerry comes along to set the record straight. The weekend was no exception.
In Indonesia on Sunday, during the last leg of an Asia tour that included South Korea and China, Kerry took the opportunity to talk about the dangers of climate change. The speech he delivered in Jakarta at the U.S. Embassy-run American Center took place a day after a second round of "peace talks" in Geneva between representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and members of the opposition ended at an impasse. (Ironically, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem also raised the issue of climate, but he wasn't referring to global temperatures. Rather, he was blaming the U.S. for "creating a very negative climate for dialogue in Geneva.")
Kerry's address to a packed audience of Indonesian students, community leaders and government officials also came two days ahead of a resumption of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) in Vienna.
None of this was what the U.S. secretary of state wanted to discuss while visiting the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, however. Instead, he was there to warn the Indonesians about greenhouse gas emissions and "big companies" that are ostensibly wreaking havoc on the planet in general, and specifically causing typhoons, floods and Friday's eruption of a volcano on the island of Java.
"This city, this country, this region, is really on the front lines of climate change," he said. "It's not an exaggeration to say that your entire way of life here is at risk. In a sense, climate change can now be considered the world's largest weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."
To add arrogance to insult and injury, Kerry attacked anyone daring to doubt the veracity of the claim that carbon monoxide is the culprit behind recent spates of bad weather.
"We simply don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation," he admonished. And then he went for the jugular. "We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts. … The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. We don't have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society."
Due to a serious lack of reportage, it is unclear how Kerry's gaseous emissions were received. But one thing is certain: The secretary of state is as clueless and agenda-driven about climatology as he is about the Middle East.
Nor does he ever let evidence interfere with his ignorance.
For Kerry's information, among the "shoddy scientists" whom he considers to be part of the "Flat Earth Society" are serious academics who spent years, and tons of grant money, studying "global warming" (a term that had to be adjusted to accommodate increasingly freezing winters) to prove both its existence and that it was caused by mankind. That their conclusion did not jibe with their original hypothesis is a testament to their professional integrity, not a reason to ridicule their research.
The following are a few truths Kerry would do well to take into account, even if The New York Times and Washington Post do not deem them newsworthy:
Earth has gone through cycles of climate change throughout history, well before the Industrial Revolution. Fluctuations between extreme cold, as in the Ice Ages, and extreme heat have always existed. Currently, for example, the sun is hotter than it has been in a century. According to NASA, this is because of solar flares.
Meanwhile, global warming is causing ice to melt on Mars, a planet without factories and cars -- and interest groups.
But the most convincing piece of proof that human beings and modernization are innocent of the charges against them lies in two clauses of an extensive report on the subject, released last September by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988.
The only trouble is that the clauses were removed from the final draft of the published document. The first says, "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases."
According to the second, "No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man-made causes."
No study is needed to conclude that terrorism and genuine weapons of mass destruction can be attributed to "man-made causes." It is these that the U.S. should be combating with all its might. Instead, the American administration is waging war on the weather.
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"