Hurricanes, Wildfires, Climate Change and the Republican “Platform” and Convention

No Acknowledgment of the Biggest Environmental Existential Threat We’ve Ever Faced

copyright JD Cooper, AL Media Group

Hurricane Laura is  barreling down on Louisiana and Texas, bringing with it “unsurvivable storm surges” and “life-threatening hazards” to parts of the Gulf Coast.  Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards is imploring residents to evacuate: “This is a very serious storm — I don’t think I have ever held a press conference to take something as seriously as I am right now. Our state hasn’t seen a storm surge like this in many decades. Same with wind speeds.”

Northern California is in flames, experiencing unprecedentedly large and threatening wildfires, with 1.25 million acres already burned, 7 lives lost, choking air quality, and $11 billion worth of housing under threat.  As UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain explains,  “The scope [of the damage] is absolutely astonishing,”  It’s “hard to impress on people just how vast the acreage burned is.”

In the middle of a pandemic, it’s hard to believe that two major additional disasters are unfolding.  Except that it shouldn’t be.  More intense hurricanes and more frequent, larger, and hotter wildfires are exactly what scientists predict as a result of rising temperatures caused by climate change.  In fact, scientists are already attributing the size and intensity of the current fires to climate change (not to our failure to “sweep” the forests, despite Trump’s admonitions): the combination of higher temperatures, drier vegetation, less moisture in the soil and drier air all make conditions perfect for giant fires. Swain and his colleagues just published a study showing that climate change has already doubled the number of extreme risk days in California and the problem will only get worse.

Hurricanes, too, are getting more intense because of climate change. They’re  producing more rain — 2017’s Hurricane Harvey dropped an astonishing 60 inches of rain on Houston in just four days.  Climate change is also increasing the intensity of wind speeds, leading to more Category 3 and 4 storms and fewer Category 1 and 2 storms, according to scientists. Hurricane Maria, a  Category 5 storm,  devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 with pounding winds peaking at 175 miles per hour, causing $90 billion in damage and thousands of deaths. Warmer temperatures are a direct cause.   Climate change appears not to be causing  more hurricanes, just larger and more intense ones.  Category 4 Hurricane Laura fits the pattern: more rain and fierce winds as it picks up moisture in the warm gulf.

In the midst of these major, climate-intensified disasters, the Republican Party is, of course, holding its convention.  It also just issued its 2020 platform, which adds nothing new to the positions the party took in 2016 and simply embraces Donald Trump. As the platform reads, the RNC “enthusiastically supports President Trump” and “has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”  Trump, of course, barely acknowledges the existence of climate change, has called it a “hoax,” has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has rolled back every single one of his predecessor’s climate policies.  The 2016 platform, which apparently embodies the party’s current position on climate change, rejects the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and the Clean Power Plan, embraces coal and oil, and says that calling climate change a pressing national security issue “embraces extremism over common sense.”

What about the Republican Convention? Not a mention in its first two days of the gravest environmental threat we have ever faced.  There are plenty of comments bashing “radical environmentalism” and the Green New Deal. But crickets about climate change. No acknowledgment let alone any solutions.

Many people have argued that our very future is on the line in the Presidential election in November.  The wildfires and Hurricane Laura are here to make the case that the statement is true.

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Reader Comments

4 Replies to “Hurricanes, Wildfires, Climate Change and the Republican “Platform” and Convention”

  1. Dan, I always find it incredible that you and Trump use the same rhetorical tactic of finger pointing at others in order to maintain your holier than thou persona.

    You, and your LP academic finger pointing community, continuously refuse to learn from the lessons of history by ignoring President Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address which included the following grave warning “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    Once again, you refuse to admit you have failed again to protect the future of the human race when it comes to maximizing your money supply, such as your sellout to BP, and now we are rocketing past 413 ppm CO2 with Hurricane Laura as one more destructive consequence.

  2. Dan, also once again, you keep practicing your culture of “academic purity” (per Hofstadter) by refusing to communicate with the public in an effort to join together to prevent out of control global warming threats, thus perpetuating the worst scenario of out of control global warming disasters that you keep documenting.

    Thus, when it comes to meeting the “challenges of change” (per the Durants) there really is no difference political and academic leaders when it comes to your subservience to the power of money which “gravely” threatens our civilization (per Eisenhower) today.

    So your documentation only keeps proving you are totally incapable of producing solutions we can implement today to the point where we have “run out of time” (per CALIFORNIA Magazine’s 2006 Special “Global Warning” issue).

  3. Prof. Carlson, I apologize for my blunder in addressing comments to Dan Farber on your post.

    This may not be an acceptable excuse but these are the highest anxiety days of my life, especially since I am extremely motivated to make the right things happen for the future of my two granddaughters that my Cal classmate-wife and I had the privilege to take one or both to the zoo once a week for 7 years from infancy until they both entered school.

    Actually, I hope and pray that PFC driven women will overcome threats by amygdala driven men in time to save the future for all of our children and grandchildren.

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

READ more