Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is calling for flood management officials to recognize the role of global warming in creating more dangerous disasters. Yesterday, as the federal government agreed to assume most of the costs of the Missouri River flood in the state of Iowa, Harkin told reporters that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to take into account the “indisputable” climate change that has been increasing precipitation intensity in the Midwest. The Master Water Control Manual of the Missouri River Basin ignores the existence of manmade global warming, and left the corps unprepared for the scope of this year’s record precipitation. Harkin told the Quad City Times that climate change is “indisputable”:
I think it’s indisputable that something is happening to our climate. Perhaps the basis of that manual needs to be revised for climate change that’s happening and the amount of snowpack.
Speaking before television reporters on Monday afternoon, as President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration for the region, Harkin reiterated that the flooding disaster could have been managed if not for the global warming caused by fossil fuel pollution:
If we hadn’t had those big rainfalls, their plans would have worked. That’s why I say we have to maybe go back and revise that master plan simply because something is happening with our climate. and we’re getting more rain and more snowpack in areas that we’ve never had before.
The corps manual does not mention the implications of climate change for the river basin, despite years of relevant scientific publications and government reports. As climate change accelerates, the challenge of handling the greater droughts and floods in our future will only increase. Our national flood-control system is grossly unprepared for what is coming, even if immediate action is taken to eliminate climate pollution.
However, the manual does note the critical role that the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey play in providing meteorological and stream flow observations and forecasts. The budgets of both agencies — and their ability to study climate change — are under attack by Tea Party Republicans along the Missouri River like Rep. Steve King (R-IA).