11/01/2011 01:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Nature Accomplishes What Politics Won't

A freak October snowstorm blanketed New York yesterday, likely setting a new October snow record.

In the meantime, Bangkok is trying to cope with one of the worst floods in history.

Standard journalistic decorum demands that I mention right about now that no single freak weather event can be attributed to global warming. Except that by now, that's no longer the case: Last year's Moscow heat wave, for example, was caused by global warming "with a likelihood of 80 percent." And overall trends for extreme events are pointing up and up.

Ironically, freak weather events like the New York storm and the Bangkok flood accomplish what politicians can't: They limit pollution in their own special ways. The New York storm left a million people without power. The Bangkok floods caused Ford, Toyota, and Michelin among many others to suspend operations at their Thai plants.

How many more extreme weather events will it take for us to realize that it may be better to have an orderly decrease in emissions through predictable laws rather than wildly disruptive natural disasters?