No one’s saying that global warming – “climate change” is now apparently the polite term for it – spawned the major hurricanes we’ve had this season. What they are suggesting, though, is that the waters of the Caribbean are now warmer than they were just a few years ago and that this feeds hurricanes and makes them more powerful and more dangerous.
The evidence of global warming is clear and irrefutable – clear and irrefutable, that is, to most thinking people. “Most thinking people,” alas, does not include the president of the United States and many Republican members of Congress, who continue to insist that this is a figment of someone’s imagination.
Like the Chinese. Seriously, that’s what some Republicans say: that climate change/global warming is a fantasy fabricated by the Chinese.
The New Yorker recently offered an interesting perspective on this administration’s and this Congress’s attitude toward global warming/climate change – and a description of some of the things they’ve done, and are doing, based on their sadly mistaken belief. (This comes directly from a longer New Yorker piece; find the entire piece here. You should consider picking up a copy of the New Yorker sometime.)
As misguided as the Bush Administration was about climate change, Donald Trump has taken willful ignorance to a whole new level. The President has called climate change an “expensive hoax dreamed up by the Chinese. After much posturing, he announced in June that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. With less fanfare, he has rolled back Obama Administration regulations limiting greenhouse-gas emissions from both old and new power plants and from oil and gas wells. (Regarding the wells, a federal appeals court recently ruled against the White House, saying that it could not simply suspend the regulations.) Trump also revoked a 2013 executive order directing federal agencies to prepare for the impacts of warming and tossed out a plan, issued the same year, that outlined steps that the U.S. would take to combat climate change.
Then, just ten days before Harvey hit, the President rescinded a 2015 executive order requiring public-infrastructure projects in flood-prone areas to be designed with sea-level rise in mind. This move is likely to have particularly unfortunate consequences for Houston, a city with no zoning code, where thousands of buildings constructed on floodplains but lacking flood insurance are now filled with soggy debris. Last Monday, as rainfall totals in Houston were topping forty inches, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that he was planning to eliminate his department’s special envoy for climate change.
Many members of Congress share Trump’s climate-change delusions, especially in the Texas delegation. Lamar Smith, a Republican who represents parts of San Antonio, chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Smith has spent the better part of his career harassing climate scientists, and in a recent op-ed for the Daily Signal, a Web site sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation, he celebrated the effects of global warming, arguing that they were producing “beneficial changes to the earth’s geography.” At a town-hall meeting in April, Joe Barton, a Republican who represents parts of Fort Worth and is the vice-chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, repeated the old denier canard that clouds are the cause of climate change. And, in June, House Republicans introduced a bill to prevent federal agencies such as the Department of Energy from considering the societal costs of carbon pollution when fashioning regulations. Among the co-sponsors were three Texas representatives.
These are NOT people who should be permitted to play with sharp objects, let alone make the laws under which we live.