Climate Denial and Racism. Playing out in Puerto Rico.

January 15, 2018

Above, good working definition of denial and fake news in action.

For years I’ve shown a light on the commonality between climate denial and racism in America. We see that playing out in real time now, as ruling Republicans have decided that majority brown, hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico is a shithole, and the Americans living there are thus unworthy of attention.

They’ve also decided that acknowledging the reality of climate change does not serve their donor’s agenda. So accepting that climate fueled disasters are a real fact of life is not possible in their hermetically sealed logic loop. The non-white population of Puerto Rico makes it invisible to the carefully cultivated ignorance of the GOP base – so from their perspective, all good for now.
But under the radar – hundreds of thousands of angry ,displaced Puerto Ricans are immigrating to electorally important red states….watch this space.

Washington Post:

IN THE more than three months since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, a lot of excuses have been offered to explain the failure to restore power and provide other critical services to American citizens who live on the island. Like the enormity of the devastation. Or the complexity of the work. Or the difficulty of getting workers and supplies to a place surrounded by water. Yadda yadda yadda.

The real reasons for the deplorable response to conditions in Puerto Rico are clear: the island’s lack of political muscle and the mainland’s lack of political will. As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico has no U.S. senator, no vote in the House and no electoral votes in presidential elections — and so it is all too easy for the White House and Congress to turn a blind eye to the needs of its vulnerable population.

More than 100 days after Maria swept the island on Sept. 20, nearly half of its residents — more than 1.5 million people — remain in the dark, and officials are now saying it will take to the end of February to restore most power. Hard-to-reach rural areas will not get power until the end of May — “just in time,” the New York Times noted, “for the 2018 hurricane season.” Lack of power is seen as a major factor in the higher death rates that occurred after the storm passed, and it continues to pose a danger as Puerto Rico struggles with limited resources, strained health-care services and the worsening of an already-poor economy.

If this were happening in any state — including another group of islands, Hawaii — there would be uninterrupted media attention and demands for action. As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) put it following a visit this week to Puerto Rico: “If this were happening in Connecticut, there would be riots in the streets.”

The Hill:

Neo-Nazis and other white supremacists are celebrating President Trump‘s reported comments referring to Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations as “shithole countries,” according to statements collected by The New York Times on Friday

White supremacist Richard Spencer, an organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year, lambasted conservatives defending the president on Fox News for pretending the remark was not racial in nature.

“It’s obviously all about race, and to their credit, liberals point out the obvious,” he told The Times.

The Daily Stormer, the largest neo-Nazi website online, welcomed Trump’s reported remark, saying it was evidence he was “more or less on the same page with us.”

“This is encouraging and refreshing, as it indicates Trump is more or less on the same page as us with regards to race and immigration,” the site said.

NBC News:

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló urged Puerto Ricans in Central Florida to use the 2018 midterm elections to vote against those who have not been “friends of Puerto Rico.”

During a near 30-minute speech where he made his frustrations known, Rosselló accused Washington of turning its back on U.S. citizens on the island after Hurricane Maria left unimaginable damage throughout the island. The island is still without full power and clean running water more than three months after the disaster.

During his speech, Rosselló said Puerto Ricans should learn from Cuban Americans, referring to how they organized years ago as a voting bloc. “They fought together so they could get results and today, they are getting results. If they can do it, why can’t we do it.”

He said this is a “great opportunity for all Puerto Ricans, for those who are as outraged at the lack of rights as I am.”

He said many politicians visited Puerto Rico after the storm and pledged to support its people. But “when the opportunity showed up that Congress could make good on their word … many of them turned their back on Puerto Rico and not only forgot about us but made things increasingly worse,” Roselló told the audience in Kissimmee.

Rosselló was referring to the tax law that was signed a few weeks ago. The new law could put companies in Puerto Rico at a disadvantage because they will be treated as offshore firms, and therefore subject to higher taxes than those based in the mainland.


Central Florida is seeing a major influx of Puerto Ricans since Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory on September 20.

Over 313,000 people have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. It’s not known how many of these have returned or will return.

The newcomers are joining over 1 million Puerto Ricans who already live in Florida. Many of them have come in recent years fleeing the economic crisis in Puerto Rico, while others are transplants from New York and Chicago who came to the mainland during prior waves of migration.

Puerto Ricans are an attractive group of voters. Once they establish residency in the mainland United States, they can vote in U.S. elections, since Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. They have high voter participation rates in the island.



8 Responses to “Climate Denial and Racism. Playing out in Puerto Rico.”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Hannah Arendt got it right. And so has Peter—-there IS a link between racism and climate change denial.

    Those “hundreds of thousands of angry, displaced Puerto Ricans that are immigrating to electorally important red states” will vote BLUE and send a clear message. Can’t wait!

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    A piece this week by David Roberts also drew (simply by putting in his climate-centered space) the connection between domestic violence to children and the behaviors by our dear leaders that are leading to violence and destruction in the world. It would be nice to see these connections drawn more explicitly. Childhood neglect and abuse and the civlization-pervading mental illness that causes them are THE reasons for ecological destruction, racism and violence in the world.

    Please don’t spank your kids
    It doesn’t work, and it teaches all the wrong lessons.
    Jan 12, 2018 David

  3. redskylite Says:

    When ! was ten years old (In 1958) African natives were displayed in fenced-up zoo pens for the visiting Europeans to grin and pass bananas to.

    1958 was also the year the USAF scientifically took into account the greenhouse gas properties of CO2 while developing heat seeking anti-aircraft missiles. 1958 was also the year that CO2 measurements started at Mauna Loa.

    I would have hoped that the world would be much wiser by now, that we would have moved on from those days of my childhood. In the future that we have inadvertently crafted there is absolutely no room for racism, lands will shrink, disappear, become inhabitable.

    Did we conveniently just forget the times that we visited the zoo to see people of other colours and cultures in their compartments.

  4. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Part of the problem in Puerto Rico is that they’re trying to rebuild the vulnerable centralized power grid structure, rather than make PR power supply more resilient via distributed local power sources.

    Besides wind and PV solar, Puerto Rico seems to be botanically lush enough to support biomass-fueled power plants. We have to stop thinking in terms of the 80-year-old rural electrification mindset, with high-voltage power lines connecting every isolated town.

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    David Roberts made a connection this week—just by putting this in his climate-centered space—between climate denial and child abuse.

    Please don’t spank your kids:
    It doesn’t work, and it teaches all the wrong lessons.

    Climate denial, ecological destruction in general, racism, sexism, war, and all our other problems come from the same place that child abuse and neglect come from, the basic emotional disease of civilization.

  6. […] goes into overdrive. Completely consistent with my continued hammering on the relationship between racism and climate denial. They always seem to show up with each […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: