Column, 305 words

Naming the Names behind Extreme Weather

How about making scientifically challenged politicians accountable for their inaction on climate change?

Jim Hightower

Environmental groups tend to be a bit grim-faced. That’s understandable since they’re constantly confronting industrial uglies that range somewhere between awful and apocalyptic.

So it’s a treat when one of them turns impishly playful, as a group of climate change activists called 350 Action recently did.

Weather Extremists, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Weather Extremists, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

In an act of “serious fun,” this bunch has launched an online petition calling on the World Meteorology Organization to change the way it names hurricanes. Instead of dubbing them with generic labels like “Bob” or “Juanita,” 350 Action wants the more-numerous and more-powerful storms we’re getting more frequently to be named after head-in-the-sand politicos who — in mindless defiance of science — are climate change deniers.

Thus, we’d have Hurricane John Boehner, in honor of the House Speaker who goes to extremes to derail regulations that would stop profiteering polluters from wreaking havoc on the globe’s climate. In standing against needed policy changes, Boehner has been like a rock — only dumber. So he deserves to have a particularly destructive hurricane branded with his name.

Also, since the Weather Channel now attaches monikers to other big weather events, opportunities abound for tagging scientifically challenged politicians with public accountability for their irresponsibility. It would be a useful learning experience, for example, for people to see the damage done by Tornado Rick “Oops” Perry, or to witness the unusually severe flooding caused by the Michele Bachmann Unstable Air Mass over Minnesota. And Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who constantly huffs that climate change is a “hoax,” should be credited with the Jim Inhofe Drought of Biblical Proportions presently parching the Southwest and Great Plains.

For more on the Climate Name Change campaign, go to and watch its hilarious video.


OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

  • Johnny Dollar

    Where are the hurricanes this year? No news channel has run any story I’ve seen. Time is running out. It’s going to get cold again. Real cold with a lot of snow if you read “The Old Farmers Almanac.” I trust that as much as anybody else speculating about climate trends.

  • mfessary

    This is great, but the politicians are not the foundational problem — it is the fossil fuel industry that buys the politicians that should go down in infamy. Greenpeace has documented the extent to which American Petroleum Institute and especially Exxon-Mobil have thrown dollars into propaganda campaigns to create a “debate” and influence public thinking about climate change.

    Suggested names: Philip Cooney, Michael Boskin, or how about the Koch brothers?