Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Trump's Climate Denial Makes Storms and Wildfires Worse

Against the backdrop of an eerie post-apocalyptic sky Trump fiddles on Twitter as California burns. As one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern American history unfolds Trump hands out paper towels in Puerto Rico declaring, "let them eat cake". 

Trump and the GOP's climate denial stands out in stark relief against the backdrop of increasingly fierce wildfires and severe weather.

The recent wildfires in Northern California have killed at least 42 people and almost 7,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed. At its peak, more than 100,000 had to be evacuated. The preliminary property loss claims are already at $1 billion but this is expected to rise dramatically as more claims are filed. In addition to homes and buildings thousands of cars and boats have also been destroyed. When all is said and done the costs of the recent spate of California files is expected to break the $2.8 billion record set by the Oakland Hills fire.

Trump has no plans to visit California and he has not offered federal support to help the rebuilding effort. Trump made a belated albeit brief stop in Puerto Rico where he handed out paper towels after Hurricane Maria decimated the US territory. Almost fifty Puerto Ricans are known to have succumbed to the hurricane, however, the actual death toll is expected to be almost ten times that number. Maria was the most devastating in a string of hurricanes that included Harvey and Irma. Despite the scientific evidence Trump avoids the climate connection for both the fires and the storms.

Instead Trump has focused his energy on attacking black athletes, dismantling health-care and killing the EPA. During this time he has also disparaged Republican lawmakers (Corker & McCain) and fought with yet another grieving Gold Star family.

Trump is well known for being a self-absorbed insensitive clod, but he has taken has taken his insensitivity to new heights by allowing American citizens to suffer needlessly. As assessed by both his actions and his words, Trump does not seem to care about the people who lost everything in California's devastating fires nor does he seem to care about the deplorable life-threatening conditions being endured by the people of Puerto Rico.

The fact that climate change plays a role in both wildfires and hurricanes may be ignored by the GOP, Trump, and his administration, however, their denial does not make the science go away. Try as he may, even the commander and chief of the world's most powerful nation cannot tweet facts out of existence by calling them fake news.

There has been no shortage of responsible stakeholders chastising both Trump and the GOP for their climate ignorance. Many have called them out and this includes  scientists, corporate America and the media. Trump has been challenged by almost every group in America with the possible exception of uneducated whites.

The recent spate of hurricanes have set records and for the first time ever there were three hurricanes in the Caribbean at the same time. Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers continue to deny the veracity of the scientific evidence. Trump's failure to assist Puerto Rico has contributed to a humanitarian disaster that is imperiling the lives of millions.

Trump has made the surreal claim that he thinks he is doing a stellar job. In fact he even gave himself a perfect score for his efforts in Puerto Rico. Oxfam does not agree and they have called Trump's lack of effort "unacceptable". Martha Thompson, Oxfam America’s program coordinator for disaster response in Puerto Rico says minimum standards are not being met.

The truth is that living conditions for the people of Puerto Rico are dreadful. A month after Maria ravaged the island, Grist reports that 80 percent of the 3.4 million residents are still without power and FEMA is feeding only 10 percent of the 2 million people who are hungry. The biggest problem is the lack of drinkable water affecting between a third to a half of Puerto Ricans. This is forcing people to drink contaminated or toxic water. Four recent deaths have been linked to dirty water as have at least 10 cases of leptospirosis. The situation is destined to get far worse as outbreaks of serious waterborne illnesses become more likely by the day.

Trump's Climate denial and racism continue to compound relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Some have said that the fact that Puerto Ricans are not white may be part of the reason why the territory is not getting the aid it needs. "There’s this idea that these are not American citizens who are going through this, which is blatantly false," the NRDC's Adrianna Quintero, said. "I think there’s an element of discrimination there."

When Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló met with Trump in Washington, D.C., he begged the president to "Give the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico the adequate resources...Treat us the same as citizens in Texas and Florida and elsewhere." What the territory needs are desalination units, water testing, water filters and solar-powered generators to run pumps.What they got from Trump is paper towels.

In an article titled,"This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse," David Wallace-Wells writes, "With millions of Americans and others throughout the Caribbean still suffering from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and another deadly wildfire raging in California, the case for climate action has never been stronger."

The rampant politically motivated climate denial practiced by Trump and the Republican party has a heavy price. Their support for fossil fuels and refusal to curtail greenhouse gas emissions invite more wildfires and more storms.

The terrifying reality is that Trump's cavalier disregard for climate science may push us past tipping points from which we may not be able to recover. That means the currently bad situation is destined to get far worse. History will show that the policies and practices of Trump and the GOP caused Americans to suffer and die.

Evidence Linking Wildfires and Climate Change
Republicans Object to Federal Drought Aid and Refuse to Help Fight Wildfires
The Dangerous Feedback Loop Between Forest Fires and Climate Change
Feedback Loop Between Extreme Weather and Fossil Fuels Makes the Case for Clean Energy Trump's Climate Denial as Puerto Ricans Continue to Die in the Wake of Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Harvey and Trump's Hypocritical Resistance to Climate Resilience
Hurricane Harvey and the State of Climate Science

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