Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Harvey, Irma and the GOP

Irma has now developed into a category 5 hurricane and is almost certainly going to hit somewhere in the US. Hopefully, it will weaken before it gets there and won't be as devastating as Harvey was for Houston. Still, it's a worrisome weather event, which brings to mind a couple of things.  
Republicans basically have one of three approaches to climate change.  
1. It's not real. Trump himself said it was a Chinese hoax. Ergo, no need to reduce carbon emissions.  
2. It's real, but it's not man-made. In other words, we puny humans can't do anything about it. Again, no need to reduce carbon emissions.  
3. It's real, and it may be (partly) caused by human activity, but trying to reduce carbon emissions would hurt the American economy. It's better to mitigate the effects of climate change. Be re-active, not pro-active. Don't worry if it breaks -- just pay for it later.  
If increase levels of carbon start to cause more extreme weather and rising sea levels, so the GOP would say, it's better for the economy to build things like sea walls (make the hurricanes pay for it!) to protect coastal cities.  
Now, with Harvey and maybe with Irma we may start to see what that third approach looks like in practice.  
The recovery from Harvey is estimated to cost taxpayers at least $150 billion, beyond the human costs, which are heartbreaking in themselves. That's not even talking about the cost of building "mitigation" infrastructure against future storms and rising sea levels (though that could be a good works program -- put the 4% of unemployed Americans to work!).  
In any case, this hurricane season may unfortunately give Republicans a chance to put their money where their mouth is regarding climate change.  
I'm sure they'll be happy to spend the money.  

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