Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/173

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RAINFALL AND COMMERCE AND POLITICS.

On the other hand, the parties which are in power, when the increased rainfall and subsequent prosperity reappear, claim and get the credit for it, and are usually returned to power by large majorities. In France, the present ministry has been in power for several years; in England, the conservatives have been returned with immense majorities; in Canada, the liberals were equally successful; and in our own country, the republicans were returned on a 'tidal wave.'

To designate as a superstition the belief in the capacity of the various political parties in power to make prosperity may be extreme, but certainly careful thinkers will join in the wish that such relations to natural phenomena as are here outlined might be carefully studied by trained investigators, using well-known scientific methods. Perhaps, then a unity of belief as to the causes of commercial distress might be obtained equaling that which has prevailed since Darwin's day as to the causes of variety and changes of form in the animal kingdom.

Would that some wise benefactor would found an institution purely for research, where all such questions of man's relation to the universe could be carefully investigated by trained investigators using the well-tried and fruitful methods of science!

Such an institution should be perfectly free and independent of the control of any other institution or party and especially should it be free from Government control. No man should be appointed to it because he believes in certain current theories, as, for example, free trade, and would give free trade statistics while the free trade party was in power, only to be dismissed and replaced by a man who would give high tariff statistics while the high tariff party was in power. His loyalty should be to the truth alone, and he should be allowed perfect freedom of expression for his results and conclusions, however much they might differ from accepted beliefs.

Such an institution, with an adequate endowment, devoted without let or hindrance to the search for truth in every field of human activity, would be of inestimable value to the nation.

Our universities, performing the threefold functions of training in methods, diffusing knowledge and investigating the laws of nature, are undoubtedly an immense power for progress in the nation. But they have strangely neglected the atmosphere and its relations to man. In only one university of our nation is there a professorship of climatology, and that of so recent a date as to be almost of the present. Is it any wonder that the influence of our atmosphere on health, commerce and politics is so little known? The work in meteorology in America heretofore has been almost entirely outside of our universities; but surely this cannot last. Our universities should somehow find means to give the study and teaching of meteorology their rightful and independent places.