Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trump's Climate Denial as Puerto Ricans Continue to Die in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria unleashed wind and rain not seen in Puerto Rico’s modern history. This storm is known to have killed at least 50 people. When all is said and done the actual toll is likely to be in the hundreds. Hurricane Maria the strongest storm to hit the island in a century and the fifth-strongest storm ever to hit the US. Maria ravaged Puerto Rico with strong winds and record-breaking rains. Before Maria hit, around 60,000 people on the island were still without power from Hurricane Irma. Parts of Puerto Rico saw more rain than Harvey dumped on Houston. The city of Caguas, in the mountains of eastern Puerto Rico, may have broken a world record for the most rain to have fallen in a single hour (14 inches). Over the course of the storm Caguas got more rain (nearly 40 inches) than Seattle does in an average year (37 inches).

Although the White House is trying to spin the government's response as a success by almost all measures it has been a dismal failure.

Many of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million inhabitants have gone without power, clean water, and adequate food ever since Hurricane Maria hit last month. Hospitals are running out of medical supplies. A million and a half Puerto Ricans still don't have safe drinking water and this is a situation that could persist for months. People are so desperate they are drinking polluted water. Reports indicate that people are drinking the water from one of the islands 18 hazardous waste “Superfund” site. In addition to potential toxicity people are at risk of major epidemics from contaminated water. Some are saying that people may have to wait months for the return of power and basic services. Many of the supplies that have arrived on the island are not making it to the people who need them most.

Trump offered himself congratulations with the following Tweet: "We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates,...". The reality on the ground is far different than the one painted by Trump.

While the mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz was saying people were dying the White House instructed its agencies to ignore cruz's pleas. During his visit to the ravaged island Trump handed out paper towels to the crowd who had assembled hoping for food or water.

"Your tweets and comments just show desperation and underscore the inadequacy of your government's response to this humanitarian crisis," Yulín Cruz writes. "It is not that you do not get it, it is that you are incapable of empathy and frankly simply cannot get the job done. Simply Put: HELP US. WITHOUT ROBUST and CONSISTENT HELP we will die."

New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez was incensed and she expressed herself to Housing Secretary Ben Carson asking him to share her message with Trump.

"To kick fellow citizens when they are down is shameful! I am the only member who is a Puerto Rican citizen who sits on this committee...how offended and insulted I am as an American citizen. I would like to suggest that the president get some history lessons regarding the Puerto Rican relationship with the United States," Velazquez said.

On CNN, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló pleaded for aid from Congress. “We need to prevent a humanitarian crisis occurring in America,” he said.

The devastation wiped out 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s agricultural production, according to Puerto Rico’s agriculture secretary, Carlos Flores Ortega. The New York Times visited farmer José A. Rivera after the winds flattened his plantain, yam, and pepper fields.“There will be no food in Puerto Rico,” Rivera, told the Times. “There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won’t be any for a year or longer.” Food prices will surely rise on the island.

The countries agriculture secretary, Flores said, this may be a chance to rebuild the island’s agriculture so that it is more efficient and sustainable, he told the Times.

Trump does not seem to be in any hurry to pass an aid package. Certainly not like when good white folk where hit by Hurricane Harvey.

Trump seemed to be more preoccupied with the posture of black athletes than he is with suffering of the people on the island. Trump is not the only one who is ignoring the plight of people in Puerto Rico but so are the mainstream news outlets.

Puerto Rico is the victim of what many are calling predatory hedge fund lending. With around $70 billion in debt the country is in dire financial straights. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or Prepa, is also $9 billion in debt. It is poorer than any U.S. state. Its median annual household income of around $18,600, and more than half of the children growing up there live in poverty.

Trump does not seem to like Puerto Rico very much. Some have suggested this is because their skin color is not the right shade for the commander and chief. Other are saying it is because the island is poor and deeply in debt. The real reason may very well be because Puerto Rico, like other Caribbean islands, is a stellar example of the savage impacts of climate change, something Trump refuses to acknowledge.

We cannot discuss hurricanes nowadays without mentioning the climate change connection. The scientific evidence linking stronger hurricanes to climate change is strong. As predicted by climate scientists we are seeing more violent storms and this is due to warming seas. The situation will worsen as the world's oceans continue to worm.

The spate of hurricanes--Harvey, Irma, and now Maria--are all deriving additional power from global warming. Like others in the Caribbean Puerto-Ricans do not need to be reminded of this relationship. They are struggling through it and some are even dying because of it.

Related
Hurricane Harvey and the State of Climate Science
Trump's Climate Denial the GOP and Fossil Fuels
Feedback Loop Between Extreme Weather and Fossil Fuels Makes the Case for Clean Energy
Hurricane Harvey and Trump's Hypocritical Resistance to Climate Resilience
Hurricane Harvey and the State of Climate Science

No comments: