With a global warming-fueled monster hurricane bearing down on Florida this week, the president and Republican senators mocked the new landmark U.N. climate report — which warns that failure to curb carbon pollution means ever worsening extreme weather events just like Hurricane Michael.
GOP leaders and the Trump Administration are all dismissing the comprehensive new report, which warns that climate inaction will lead to catastrophic consequences sooner than we imagined. Tragically, Trump’s brazen, nonsensical statements on climate appear to have emboldened Republican senators to make equally extreme and nonsensical statements.
On Tuesday afternoon, as Hurricane Michael was starting to intensify into a storm just shy of Category 5, Presidential Donald Trump told reporters that the much-heralded report was not more credible than reports that say the climate is “fabulous.”
When asked “Have you read the U.N. report this week warning about climate change, requiring drastic action?” Trump offered a characteristically bizarre reply:
“I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren’t so good.”
Apparently in the 40 hours between when the report was released and when Trump made these inane remarks, nobody told him who “drew” the report.
In fact, the report came from the world’s foremost scientific panel on climate change (the IPCC) — and literally every major country in the world, including the United States, signed off on the exact wording of it.
But on Wednesday, as Gulf Coast’s warmer-than-normal waters supercharged Michael into the most intense hurricane in U.S. history to make landfall in October, an array of GOP senators dismissed the report’s whole notion of aggressive climate action.
“It’s totally unrealistic,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told the Huffington Post. “They must have parachuted in from another planet.”
In some sense the rest of the world is “another planet” — one filled with people who actually think preserving a livable climate for our children and grandchildren is not only realistic but a moral imperative.
But on “planet Trump,” climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, clean air rules that saves lives are gutted, and dirty energy sources of the past like coal are favored over the clean energy sources of the future like wind and solar.
Kennedy represents perhaps the country’s most vulnerable city to rising seas and superstorms: New Orleans. Much of the city is already below sea level, a key reason it was devastated by a supercharged Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.
Barring the kind of policies proposed in the UN climate report — policies that Trump, Kennedy, and his colleagues uniformly oppose — New Orleans is all but certain to be slammed again and ultimately devastated by climate change.
“They might as well be calling on me to sprout wings and fly to Canada for the summer,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) told HuffPost. Mississippi was also devastated by Katrina’s 20-foot storm surge.
“How is that new? They’ve said the same thing before,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Hours after Rubio made these remarks, Hurricane Michael leveled entire cities in his state.
Like a patient with worsening emphysema who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, but keeps ignoring the doctors warnings, Rubio keeps dismissing the science.
During the 2016 campaign, Rubio was dismissive of the dangers that climate change pose to Florida, and he asserted that efforts to fight it are “just not good public policy.” Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine said candidate Rubio was “100% using the language of a climate change denier.”
Kennedy, Wicker, Rubio and other Senate GOP climate science deniers, like James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who also dismissed the IPCC and its findings Wednesday), are concentrated in the South.
The South, however, is incredibly vulnerable to climate change. Back in May the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond concluded that failure to stop business-as-usual global warming will deliver a severe economic blow to Southern states.
And that conclusion was just based on rising temperatures. Once you throw in more extreme droughts and deluges, plus rising seas and ever higher storm surges like the IPCC report warns of, then, indeed, most areas in the Southern states begin to be uninhabitable.
Tragically, Trump’s extreme denial of climate science appears to have emboldened GOP Senators — just as the most urgent warnings of IPCC scientists about ever-worsening extreme weather are playing out right now.