Sunday, 10 September 2017

Climate change: and 'good governance'

There has been a lot of politics around the latest hurricanes hitting the States.

Should the 'market' be allowed to just get on with it?
Flood Subsidies Helped Harvey Do More Harm - Foundation for Economic Education
Hurricanes Don’t Blow Away Economic Law - Foundation for Economic Education
Houston's Lack of Zoning Laws Will Help It Rebuild - Foundation for Economic Education
How Price Gouging Helped My Family during a Storm - Foundation for Economic Education 
Price Gougers Actually Help Solve the Problem of Scarcity - Foundation for Economic Education

Or should there be better regulation?

Voices are speaking up in Florida:
Miami Mayor To Donald Trump: It's Time To Talk About Climate Change | HuffPost
Irma: Florida governor's climate change denial has made state even more vulnerable, warn experts | The Independent

And people are asking what role government should be taking:
We Need Disaster Recovery For The People | HuffPost

It's all about how climate change, immigration, taxation, zoning/environmental regulation and Washington politics interrelate: 

Harvey and Irma batter the GOP’s big issues


As Americans have watched the flooding of Houston and the fierce advance of Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, the foundations of conservative policies are giving way to a renewed respect for science and a stronger appreciation for the role of the federal government.

How hurricanes Harvey and Irma have changed politics | News & Observer

Or, to be more brutal:

No, climate change didn't cause the Hurricane Harvey disaster – society did

Many voting records in Texas are for lower taxes, for less government intervention, against tackling systemic inequities and against helping marginalised people help themselves. This choice actively creates the vulnerabilities which cause disasters

Ilan Kelman Wednesday 30 August 2017

Hurricane Harvey has had disastrous consequences for the people of Texas Reuters/Nick Oxford

Weather and climate don’t cause disasters – vulnerability does. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this means that the widespread discussion as to whether the Hurricane Harvey disaster was caused by climate change or not becomes a dangerous distraction.

No, climate change didn't cause the Hurricane Harvey disaster – society did | The Independent

As Patrick Cockburn says in the Independent:

I’ve seen the reality of what happens after disasters like Hurricane Irma – it’s different to what you’ve been told

Because of an over-focus on empty gestures and a queasiness about money, the response to natural disasters in the US is all too often inadequate. The army and the National Guard are on standby in South Florida – but if Hurricane Andrew taught us anything, it’s that they aren’t as much use as you’d think

I’ve seen the reality of what happens after disasters like Hurricane Irma – it’s different to what you’ve been told | The Independent

The Nation does not mince its words:

Climate Denialism Is Literally Killing Us


The victims of Hurricane Harvey have a murderer—and it’s not the storm.​

By Mark HertsgaardTwitter SEPTEMBER 6, 2017

Workers begin to repair a home that was damaged when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. August 30, 2017. (AP Photo / Eric Gay)

The horrors hurled at Houston and the Himalayan lowlands in late August were heartbreaking—but also infuriating. How many times must we see this disaster movie—titled Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, along with many lesser-
known foreign releases—before we intervene and change the ending? And how long before we hold the ultimate authors of such climate catastrophes accountable for the miseries they inflict?

The tragedy of Harvey starts with the suffering of innocents like Jordyn Grace, the 3-year-old who survived the flood by clinging to the body of her drowned mother, who had prayed with her last breaths. At least 60 people died in Texas because of the storm, over 1 million people were displaced, and who knows how many survived but lost everything? Multiply the death and destruction in Texas a hundredfold to comprehend the scale of devastation in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, where—although the news coverage has been a fraction of Harvey’s—a staggering 16 million children“are in urgent need of life-saving support” after “torrential monsoon rains and catastrophic flooding,” UNICEF reports.

What makes this so infuriating is that it shouldn’t be happening. Experts have warned for decades that global warming would increase these sorts of weather extremes and that people would suffer and die if protective measures were not implemented. In 2008, John Podesta, soon to be Obama’s transition director, organized a war game to test the responses to projected climate disruptions. Eerily enough, the scenario chosen—and vetted as scientifically accurate by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory—envisioned a Category 4 hurricane striking Houston and extreme monsoons flooding India. This is not to say that global warming “caused” Harvey—a scientifically illiterate framing of the issue—but it did make the rains bigger, more intense, and more destructive. Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of water—“enough to cover all of Manhattan a mile deep,” noted Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press—and as much as 30 percent of it can be attributed to global warming, according to Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.



Laila Lalami 

Many other experts have issued warnings, starting with NASA scientist James Hansen’s landmark 1988 Senate testimony that global warming had begun and, if left unchecked, would threaten the future of human civilization. Recent years have also brought abundant evidence that shifting to wind power, less meat-heavy diets, and other climate-friendly alternatives would result in lasting economic and health benefits: more jobs, less inequality, cleaner air, stronger communities.

Yet Donald Trump and other powerful know-nothings in Washington seem perversely determined to ignore the lessons of Harvey, while doubling down on making things worse. Trump has crammed his administration full of climate-change deniers while pushing full steam ahead on more oil, gas, and coal production. His EPA chief, incredibly, has urged governors to ignore the Clean Power Plan proposed by the Obama administration, aiding conservative efforts to gut the policy. Days before Harvey drenched Texas, Trump rescinded Obama’s requirement that federal agencies take climate impacts into account before approving major infrastructure. And in a stunning insult not only to climate preparedness but the legacy of US space exploration, Trump nominated a climate denier with no scientific training to run NASA.

When the president announced in June that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, I wrote in The Nation: “To refuse to act against global warming is to condemn thousands of people to death and suffering today and millions more tomorrow. This is murder, even if Trump’s willful ignorance of climate science prevents him from seeing it.” That judgment grows more apt with each passing day we don’t reverse course. Knowing what we know in 2017, expanding fossil-fuel production is like Big Tobacco continuing to addict people to its cancer sticks: technically legal but, in effect, premeditated murder.

It is past time to call out Trump and all climate deniers for this crime against humanity. No more treating climate denial like an honest difference of opinion. When top tobacco executives swore to Congress that nicotine wasn’t addictive, their assertion, though laughable, did not make it true. Forty-six state attorneys general forced those companies to pay at least $206 billion for their wickedness. Now, the individuals and institutions pushing climate denial must be called out with even greater vigor: in newspaper columns, on TV and radio talk shows, in town halls, at the ballot box, and by consumer boycotts, legal investigations, shareholder resolutions, street protests, and more.

Shedding tears for little Jordyn Grace in Houston and her counterparts in the Himalayan lowlands is only right, but it is far from sufficient. With Hurricane Irma churning toward Florida, the horrors and heartbreaks will only get worse until we change the game for their perpetrators. The first step toward justice is to call things by their true names. Murder is murder, whether the murderers admit it or not. Punish it as such, or we encourage more of the same.

Mark HertsgaardTWITTER
Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s investigative editor at large, is the author of seven books, including On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.


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