Climate Troubles in Trump Country

May 23, 2017

More weather extremes.
While climate communicators are trying to figure out the magic formula to snap people out of denial, the Earth continues to speak in ever more convincing ways.

E&E News:

ALTON, Ill. — The first priority was, of course, keeping everyone safe, as floodwaters got so high that city crews stationed a canoe to navigate one of the lower downtown streets earlier in May.

Reopening the riverboat casino came a close second in this Mississippi River town 25 miles north of St. Louis, between the confluence of the Illinois and Missouri rivers.

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“The boat,” as Mayor Brant Walker calls the brightly colored Argosy casino, contributes $4 million to an annual city budget of $31 million. Floodwaters were still pooling in the lower part of town and in the casino parking lot, but shuttles ferried gamblers from staging points on drier ground to the reopened boat in the days after the worst of the flooding.

“It’s absolutely devastating, especially when you work with tight budgets we currently have,” Walker said.

Add climate change to the common bouts of inundation, and towns along the Mississippi are confronting a new reality, Walker said, one that compounds the misery of previous floods. The 180-year-old town has had five flood events in the past four years, he said, and four of those have been in the top 10 flooding disasters in Alton’s history.

“We’re now living in a world of extremes on the Mississippi River,” he said. “We just don’t get normal spring rains anymore. We get huge downpours.”

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Outside Illinois and Minnesota, the Mississippi’s 10-state path through the central United States is largely a red one. With the exception of major cities like St. Louis; Memphis, Tenn.; and New Orleans, the river runs through states where people voted for a president who has declared climate change a hoax and who, since his election, has done nearly everything within his powers to dismantle globally agreed-to limits on emissions and other efforts to reduce greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.

Yet along the Mississippi’s banks, even in some conservative quarters, people have begun to wonder about the consequences of the man-made changes occurring not just to the path of the river and its tributaries, but to the atmosphere itself. The National Climate Assessment says that the Midwest faces many threats from climate change, including heat waves, drought and flooding. One has already arrived: heavier precipitation caused by a warmer atmosphere capable of holding more moisture.

“I hope people are just realizing that climate change is playing a role in all these tragedies our region is facing these past several years,” said David Stokes, a Republican who serves as executive director of the St. Louis-based Great Rivers Habitat Alliance, an organization that addresses issues affecting wetlands and floodplain use in the confluence region of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers.

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2 Responses to “Climate Troubles in Trump Country”

  1. funslinger62 Says:

    The video is not working.


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