Obama admin triples number of helicopters sent for flood relief
Think Progress updates the Pakistan/climate/security story.
Denizens of Washington DC are reeling from a catastrophic storm that knocked out power for 100,000, toppled trees, and flooded streets. Much of the Gulf Coast is under flood warnings, and the central United States is sweltering under 110-degree heat, following an early summer of record heat and rainfall across much of the United States. Severe weather fueled by global warming pollution is having an even more devastating impact around the world:
- The fasting month of Ramadan began yesterday in sorrow for 14 million Pakistanis, as one fifth of the nation is underwater from the worst monsoon-related floods in living memory.
- Weeks of flooding and landslides in China have affected over 140 million people in 28 provinces as rivers like the Yangtze, the Yellow and the Songhua have swollen from the extreme rains.
- Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic face millions of dollars of damage after flooding rains last weekend carved a “swath of destruction,” killing at least 11 people and damaging hundreds of homes and businesses.
- Russia’s unprecedented heat wave, which has killed thousands and caused $15 billion in damage to the country’s economy, may be the “first disaster unequivocally attributable to anthropogenic climate change.”
All of these disasters were predicted by climate scientists as a consequence of greenhouse gas pollution from burning fossil fuels.
Obama admin triples the number of helicopters it is sending for Pakistan flood relief
As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, massive flooding is causing a humanitarian disaster in Pakistan and there are fears that the lack of a robust response by the international community will allow extr
emists to take advantage of the tragedy to push their own agenda. This is further compounded by the fact that the U.S. had been unable to spare many Chinook transport helicopters to assist the effort due to their use for the war in Afghanistan. Late Wednesday, the Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he will be tripling the number of Chinooks it will be sending to Pakistan, citing the dangers in allowing extremists the “opportunity” to take over the disaster response:
The United States announced on Wednesday more helicopters and aid to beef up relief efforts in Pakistan, which is grappling with its worst floods in 80 years. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. military was tripling the number of helicopters in Pakistan from six to 19 and was sending in a landing platform to be used off the coast of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city.
President Barack Obama wanted to “lean forward” in being helpful, said Gates, who voiced concern that Islamist militants would seek to expand their influence by giving much-needed aid while Pakistan’s civilian government struggled to reach victims. “It does offer them (militants) an opportunity and so we are pleased to do what we can to help the Pakistani government and military demonstrate their capacity and their intention to care for their own people.” Gates told reporters traveling with him to Florida. “We will do what we can,” he added.
The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration’s assistance efforts are helping to build goodwill in Pakistan. The military says the Chinooks it already had deployed in Pakistan have “rescued more than 3,089 people and transported more than 322,340 pounds of emergency relief supplies.” The U.N. estimated this week that 1,600 Pakistanis have been killed in the floods, 980,000 have been left homeless, and six million people in the country are now dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.
For background and links to groups providing help to Pakistanis, see Media wakes up to Hell and High Water: Moscow’s 1000-year heat wave and “Pakistan’s Katrina”
For more on the national security threat posed by unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions:
- NYT: Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security
- Quadrennial Defense Review Should Spark Interagency Climate Conversation
- The moving Fingar writes
- Climate change: The new national security challenge
And that’s why 33 generals and admirals announced support for the climate bill last month, asserting “Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place” and “threatening America’s security.”