The man in charge of the nation's environmental policy has a remarkable outlook on preventing a repeat of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
It boils down to: Oh, for heaven's sake, let's move on.
Scott Pruitt is the fox in charge of the hen house. Really. In Oklahoma, as attorney general, he spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency. The man hated the EPA. Now he is head of the EPA. Really.
Scientists have figured out that hurricanes are stronger, bigger and more dangerous because warming ocean temperatures spawn monster storms. Climate change, worsened by burning fossil fuels, is warming oceans. Storms will get worse.
Harvey dumped as much as 52 inches of rain on parts of Texas and caused billions of dollars in damage that will take years to remedy. Irma was one of the mightiest Category 5 hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. More are coming.
Pruitt does not believe climate change is a real, scientific, preventable phenomenon. He will not push businesses to take steps to prevent it, such burning less coal and oil. Neither will his boss. President Donald Trump dismisses climate change as a "hoax." The storm-ravaged, exhausted, heartsick people of Florida, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana probably wonder who is playing this nasty hoax on them.
Pruitt will go down in history as saying this about the links between climate change and Irma's ferocity: "To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to ... people in Florida," he snapped. He made a similar statement about Harvey's victims. So apparently, talking about climate change in hurricane season is just a "misplaced" waste of time.
Denying climate change is now official U.S. policy. References to it have been removed from government websites. Vital climate change research is being ended or curtailed. New projects are not being funded. Shortly after taking office, Trump famously diminished U.S. stature in the world by taking us out of a climate pact all developed nations had signed. White House officials won't even take questions about climate change. Voila! It has disappeared as a problem to be solved.
According to the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies and NASA, rising global temperatures and more extreme, frequent rainstorms are linked. Not just in theory. In fact.
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You may say, "I don't believe it." But, friends, this is not a matter of religious-like belief. Facts are facts or they wouldn't be facts. An intellectually honest person cannot, in good conscience, say, "I choose not to believe climate change is real."
Climate change deniers are the modern-day equivalent of those who said, "I don't care what the facts are, the world is flat," or, "Earth is the center of the universe." Deniers say the increasing destruction caused by natural events is just cyclical, not a permanent condition. Their motto: "I don't care what science says."
Yes, weather and climate are different entities. Yes, hurricanes happen annually. But in the last 40 years, man's destruction of the ozone layer has contributed to making hurricanes more catastrophic and deadlier. Climate is changing weather patterns, making them more extreme. Floods are worse; droughts are worse.
Future generations will incredulously wonder how we managed to stick our heads in such hot sand.
But we know, of course, that denying reality is required in the Trump administration. Despite an overwhelming mountain of facts, this administration refuses to admit the Russians went to outrageous lengths to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
Nah. Just another hoax, says Trump.
Wouldn't it be great if this whole Trump being president thing were just a hoax? If only we could pick and choose our hoaxes instead of being boxed in by those pesky things once known as facts.
In Scott Pruitt's world, carbon dioxide doesn't cause climate change because he doesn't want it to. In Pruitt's world, which is also Trump's, choosing which hoaxes to believe in is business as usual and good for business. But only in the short term.