First came the dismissal, “I’m not a scientist.”
Now, though, as the extreme weather scientists have been predicting for decades becomes a reality, the excuse from the Right is shifting to, “Let’s not be insensitive to the hurricane victims.”
Despite what Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director Scott Pruitt wishes, we are going to be talking about climate change.
Because if not now, when?
In an interview with CNN on last week about the most recent hurricanes to attack Texas and Florida, Pruitt chastised scientists for discussing “the cause and effect of these storms,” claiming:
“To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to the people in Florida.”
The following day, Politico reported:
“[The] EPA’s climate change adaptation staff [focused on preparing for sea-level rise and extreme weather] will be dissolved.”
“In other words, Pruitt would like to end all talk about climate change during a superstorm — and then ensure his agency doesn’t discuss how our understanding of climate change and sea level rise might help communities prepare for the next extreme storm. But if we spend tens of billions of dollars trying to rebuild Houston without an understanding of sea level rise or the role of climate change in juicing extreme weather, then Houston will just keep getting inundated and we’ll keep rebuilding it the wrong way.”
Even in an administration assiduously attempting to rescind every vestige of its predecessor, and with a president who has labeled climate change a “Chinese hoax,” Scott Pruitt’s denial is extreme. In fact, none other than Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace argued:
“Mr. Pruitt, there are all kinds of studies that contradict you. Human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
While climate scientists are not claiming climate change caused hurricanes Harvey and Irma, they are confirming it exacerbated them by providing perfect conditions to produce, for example, the highest sustained winds in recorded history.
Several climate scientists CNN spoke with aver that since water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is 3.6°F warmer than normal, saying it:
“…Could be a pressure cooker for key ingredients of a hurricane: extreme winds, rainfall and storm surge.”
Pruitt’s response to CNN was:
“To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm, versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”
Gavin Schmidt of NASA labeled attempts to vilify scientists for drawing a straight line connecting climate change to superstorms “BS” and an effort to “control the story & delegitimize other voices.”
Even Pope Francis is siding with scientists.
To reporters on Sunday aboard the papal plane returning from Colombia, the pontiff said about serious efforts to mitigate climate change’s effects:
“If we don’t turn back, we will go down. You can see the effects of climate change and scientists have clearly said what path we have to follow. All of us have a responsibility, all of us, small or large, a moral responsibility. We have to take it seriously. We can’t joke about it. ”
The Vatican urged President Donald Trump during his visit in May to remain in the Paris Climate accord, yet Trump withdrew upon returning to the United States, in what a Vatican official has called a “slap in the face” for the pope and the Vatican.