Hurricane Hang-Over: Waking Up to Climate Denial and Paranoia

September 11, 2017


Has America hit bottom yet?

Miami Herald:

Miami’s Republican mayor called on President Donald Trump and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Friday to acknowledge that climate change is playing a role in the extreme weather that has slammed his city and the continental U.S. this summer.

Speaking from Miami’s Emergency Operations Center in downtown, where the city’s senior public safety and political authorities will ride out Category 4 Hurricane Irma this weekend, Mayor Tomás Regalado told the Miami Herald that he believes warming and rising seas are threatening South Florida’s immediate and long-term future.

“This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change,” said Regalado, who flew back to Miami from Argentina Friday morning to be in the city during the storm. “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

Palm Beach Post:

Applause to Gov. Rick Scott for responding so quickly and decisively to Irma, this monster bearing down upon us.

On Monday, Labor Day, while the then-Category 4 was hundreds of miles away, nearly a week before projected landfall at Florida’s tip, Scott declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties. For days, he has appeared in his “Navy” ball cap in the role of commander of Florida’s emergency response, issuing orders and advice and demanding that citizens take the storm seriously. Scott’s quick action undoubtedly will have saved lives.

Once the wind dies down and the water recedes, we hope he can be just as decisive in abandoning his tunnel vision when it comes to the threat of climate change. His shortsightedness, and that of other climate “skeptics” have kept this nation from doing all it could to slow the escalation of such weather-driven catastrophes as this.

We know that hurricanes feed on warm waters and that the oceans are warmer. We know that storm surges intensify with rising sea levels.

But that hasn’t been good enough for politicians like Scott, who famously fended off questions about sea-level rise with the wimp words, “I’m not a scientist.” Even more famously, he reportedly pressured workers at his environmental protection agency from uttering the words “climate change,” “sea-level rise” and “global warming” (Scott denies it).

This attitude is plumb fatal for Florida, surrounded on three sides by water and resting on a thin layer of porous limestone, under which water flows easily. Over the next 80 years, more than 6 million Floridians will be threatened by rising sea levels, according to a 2016 study. By 2030, $69 billion in property will be at risk from climate change, $15 billion of that from sea-level rise alone, according to the Risky Business project.

Associated Press:

Cara Mund is not worried that she may begin her year-long reign as Miss America by starting a Twitter war with the nation’s Tweeter-In-Chief.

The 23-year-old Miss North Dakota won the crown Sunday night in Atlantic City after saying in an onstage interview that President Donald Trump was wrong to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.

Mund topped a field of 51 contestants to win in the New Jersey seaside resort, where most of the 97 Miss Americas have been selected.

She will take the traditional winner’s morning-after dip in the Atlantic City ocean Monday morning outside Boardwalk Hall, where she was crowned.

In one of her onstage interviews, Mund said Trump, a Republican, was wrong to withdraw the U.S. from the climate accord aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

“It’s a bad decision,” she said. “There is evidence that climate change is existing and we need to be at that table.”

Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

And thanks to Trump’s electoral victory, know-nothing, anti-science conservatives are now running the U.S. government. When you read news analyses claiming that Trump’s deal with Democrats to keep the government running for a few months has somehow made him a moderate independent, remember that’s it not just Pruitt: Almost every senior figurein the Trump administration dealing with the environment or energy is both an establishment Republican and a denier of climate change and of scientific evidence in general.

Why are U.S. conservatives so willing to disbelieve science and buy into tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories about scientists? Part of the answer is that they’re engaged in projection: That’s the way things work in their world.

But it also makes sense to them because conservatives have grown increasingly hostile to science in general. Surveys show a steady decline in conservatives’ trust in science since the 1970s, which is clearly politically motivated — it’s not as if science has stopped working.

The bottom line is that we are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea — the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world. And this willful ignorance is deeply frightening. Indeed, it may end up destroying civilization.


New York Times Editorial: 

This is a president who has never shown much fidelity to facts, unless they are his own alternative ones. Yet if there is any unifying theme beyond that to the administration’s war on science, apart from its devotion to big industry and its reflexively antiregulatory mind-set, it is horror of the words “climate change.”

This starts with Mr. Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and pulled the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change. Among his first presidential acts, he instructed Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to deep-six President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to roll back Obama-era rules reducing the venting from natural gas wells of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas.

Mr. Trump has been properly sympathetic to the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the fact that there is almost certainly a connection between a warming earth and increasingly destructive natural events seems not to have occurred to him or his fellow deniers. Mr. Pruitt and his colleagues have enthusiastically jumped to the task of rescinding regulations that might address the problem, meanwhile presiding over a no less ominous development: a governmentwide purge of people, particularly scientists, whose research and conclusions about the human contribution to climate change do not support the administration’s agenda.


5 Responses to “Hurricane Hang-Over: Waking Up to Climate Denial and Paranoia”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    A great collection of commentary on the fact that America is indeed on its way to “the bottom” in the way it deals with science and climate change. Krugman nailed it with:

    “The bottom line is that we are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea — the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world. And this willful ignorance is deeply frightening. Indeed, it may end up destroying civilization”.

    Again, not to wish ill on anyone, but we need a couple or three more hurricanes to make landfall this season before these people acknowledge the Black Elephant in the room. (And once again, they should stay away from my house and those of my friends and family.)

  2. I don’t expect Trump to start acknowledging climate change. It’s like hoping a stuffed goose is going to start honking. Ain’t gonna happen and why bother hoping otherwise?

    Hope instead lies in reality. The type of reality business people understand: Finanical harveyloses. I’m not buing real estate in the Maimi, or Houston area anytime soon, unless it floats.

    When the real estate market takes a dive, and I believe it will after/Irma, that’s the time those fossil fuel deniers will shut up and disappear, for fear of facing trial.

    • wpNSAlito Says:

      This always seems so harsh when I say it, but no government should subsidize flood insurance, and there will be further pressure to do so after Harvey and Irma.

  3. ubrew12 Says:

    David Roberts, at Vox, writes that American conservatives are now completely insulated from reality by a extremely well-funded ‘tribal epistemology’:
    Obviously, this conservative take on all of reality is funded by the global 1% to keep Americans voting for tax cuts, deregulation, and a war machine purposed to keeping global business profits humming along. Just the climate-denial portion of this alt-reality is a one-billion-dollar-a-year industry.
    Roberts: “I think we have reached a point where we can say conclusively that the substantive scientific case for climate change is not going to pierce the conservative bubble, no matter how sharp the spear… Hurricanes are battering our shores, the West is on fire, that poor 2 percent of remaining scientific skeptics has been refuted, and here’s Rush Limbaugh, telling people in Miami not to believe meteorologists… conservatives will tend to believe on climate change whatever people on Fox (or talk radio) tell them about climate change… It is conservative elites, and only conservative elites, who have the power to end this surreal farce. Judging from Rush Limbaugh’s take on hurricanes, they do not yet feel any pressure to do so.”

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    My psychic has her hand to her forehead… she’s saying… wait, wait, she sees in the very near future the relentless replaying of the video of Limburger telling his loyal Florida listeners to ignore hurricane warnings while pretty much admitting he’s leaving town to escape the um…hurricane. She says it’s unclear but really really really really really hopes someone got him packing the car and driving away on video.

    Those who are still clinging to the right’s official position are few but committed at this point, but every storm blows away a little more of the resistance against the reality of science and the necessity of replacing fossil fuels with efficiency, wiser lives and clean safe renewable energy. Every time wavering rank and file conservatives are faced with betrayal like this–politicians and media flacks passing on the message of the rich and powerful for the peasants to ignore their own senses and listen to dogma (while the rich more and more obviously don’t believe it themselves) more of the true believers are turned loose. The nuts we read online will be the last ones hanging onto the party line and trying to pretend they’re part of a non-collapsing philosophy, but keep looking beyond them at the numbers.

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