More Clueless Climate Deniers

November 12, 2017

In case after case, Trump nominees to important environmental posts show incredible inability to acknowledge even the most basic facts in front of our eyes.

And why it matters.

New York Times:

In Washington, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is leading recovery efforts that could cost taxpayers more than $50 billion after devastating storms hit Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. At the same time, the agency is wrestling with an even harder problem: how to help communities prepare for future flooding disasters that could be far more severe than anything seen this year.

Complicating that task is the fact that the Trump administration has largely been hostile to discussions of global warming. In August, a week before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, President Trump rescinded an Obama-era executive order that urged federal agencies to take into account climate change and sea-level rise when rebuilding infrastructure.

Climate change remains a polarizing topic in the nation’s capital, and FEMA is caught in the middle. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office warned that rising sea levels and heavier downpours fueled by global warming could increase flooding costs in coastal communities by $23 billion per year by midcentury unless they start adapting now.

“There are plenty of people who want to debate the vocabulary” around climate change, said Roy E. Wright, FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation. “But Congress’ instruction was for us to attend ourselves to future risks and reduce the costs of future disasters. So as I look at the adaptation dimension, that’s about resilience. That’s resilience against future events.”

s the hurricane season unfolded, administration officials began hinting that they would craft a new federal flood standard, though it is unclear whether it would take into account climate-change forecasts. And, Mr. Wright said, FEMA is still moving forward with other initiatives aimed at helping states and cities defend against future floods. Even states led by governors who reject climate science, like those in Wisconsin and Florida, are now taking steps to prepare for the worsening flood risks climate change could bring.

But the controversy around the climate rule illustrates how tricky preparing for future disasters can be in today’s political landscape, especially since experts argue that adapting to stronger storms and several feet of sea level rise could require upfront investments beyond what the federal government has been willing to consider to date.

“I don’t think the scale of what we need to do has sunk in,” said David W. Titley, a retired rear admiral and former chief oceanographer of the Navy who heads a climate center at Pennsylvania State University. “We’re not talking about elevating a few structures by a foot. We’re talking about elaborate flood defenses and relocation efforts that could cost billions — or trillions.”

Most of the planning for floods happens at the state and local level, with officials making decisions about where to build homes or how high to elevate buildings in floodplains. But if a severe disaster like a hurricane strikes, the federal government typically steps in with aid for recovery.

“Communities and states often want to allow as much development as possible, because they reap the tax revenue,” said Larry Larson, director emeritus of the Association of State Floodplain Managers. “But if there’s a major disaster, the federal government will bail them out.”

That, experts say, can lead to a type of moral hazard. Studies have shown that one dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation can prevent four dollars in average losses. But if cities aren’t paying the full price for those losses, they may have less incentive to take costly or difficult measures to avoid flooding in the first place — like restricting development along coasts.

Another Obama-era change: In order to qualify for disaster aid, states would have to consider the effects of climate change in the hazard mitigation plans they submit to FEMA every five years, detailing the risks they face from floods and other disasters, as well as possible steps they might take to minimize losses.

Most states aren’t scheduled to submit updated plans until 2018. But Wisconsin, a state whose governor has disavowed climate science, submitted one of the first mitigation plans in December and described in detail how global warming could affect the state and urged measures to prepare for things like heavier rainfall events. “Climate resilience,” the plan noted, “is a state and national priority.”



Chart from the recently released US Global Change Research study, a multi-agency update on climate impacts in the United States – shows the number of 2-day events with a precipitation total exceeding the largest 2-day amount that is expected to occur, on average, only once every 5 years, as calculated over 1958–2016. Numbers in black are percent increase or decrease


7 Responses to “More Clueless Climate Deniers”

  1. Wehrum’s nomination was confirmed with a 49-47 vote. Susan Collins was the only GOP opposing vote.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      This makes my blood boil.
      One day this whole denial apparatus will be swept away and buried, along with those party to it.

      • Careful for what you wish for. The only climate change deniers in this issue are those who demand a static climate set at an arbitrary level chosen from 150 or so years ago. When the greater public realizes how messed up that whole concept is, your whole apparatus really will be swept away by a tide of critical, objective thinking, and folks like you will be standing there with your mouths agape wondering what happened.

      • Therefore, our fundamental disagreement about the science is whether a somewhat stable climate is an arbitrary or a reasonable objective.

  2. Prepare for Legal action and seeking compensation from the doubt machine and their funders, and the legislators and department heads and Whitehouse machine such as Mercer and Bannon et al.
    Possibly even Criminal Charges with long jail terms

    Why should the taxpayer foot the bill ?

    • There already IS legal action going on with exactly this goal, and I welcome it because I know exactly where it crashes & burns. Don’t think I keep this to myself, either. What amazes me is how your dear leaders utterly fail to see how their enslavement to a core set of “evidence” and the people surrounding efforts to repackage that “evidence” as something new and exciting every few years is political suicide if your side keeps on drawing attention to it the way they do.

      What I enjoy seeing is how you blokes never read or listen to your leaders own material in any depth to see if there are major pitfalls in the narratives.

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