President Obama is trying to “single-handedly prevent hurricanes,” according to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which apparently isn’t necessary since “the Earth may in fact be getting cooler.”
Carlson voiced this particular bit of confused denial on Fox News’ Sunday’s airing of Fox & Friends. It was inspired by the executive order President Obama signed Friday, which does not attempt to stop hurricanes. Its focus is not even on combating climate change. It addresses climate resilience — to help communities, cities, and states prepare for the well-documented extreme weather consequences of climate change.
Though national figures like Carlson try to create doubt about the reality of human-caused climate change, local politicians, including Republicans, are becoming increasingly aware of the risks posed to their communities.
Much of Virginia’s coast, 82 percent, is at risk to sea level rise, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Yet Virginia’s state legislature approved a 2011 study on the threat of sea level rise only as long as it omitted the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘sea level rise’ for political reasons. Despite that, its conclusions were clear: Virginia’s sea levels are rising due to climate change, and the state has to prepare.
State Senator Jim Watkins (R-Midlothian) was clear about what’s going on. “The fact of the matter is, we’ve got rising waters,” he said. “We’ve got recurrent flooding. There are more 100-year storms in the last 15 years than we’ve ever seen. Somebody has got to deal with it.”
Estimates vary, but a 2012 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated up to six feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, putting more than eight million Americans at risk.
Superstorm Sandy’s unprecedented storm surge did more damage as a result of higher sea levels, and a NOAA study found that “climate-change related increases in sea level have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood recurrence as compared to 1950.”
Resilience is also a cost-saving measure. A study prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that every $1 spent on resilience saves $4 in disaster recovery.
Carlson’s adherence to the easily-debunked idea that climate change is a hoax lets him ignore real impacts on real people. He seems to prefer that we ignore the real effects of climate change, because it doesn’t fit with his idea that climate change doesn’t exist. Perhaps he should talk to the Virginia Republicans who changed their tune, or visit Knoxville, Tennessee, a conservative town where climate denial is on its way out, or even the fossil fuel companies which are adopting climate resilience strategies to help their bottom lines.