Is It Insensitive To Discuss Climate Change Right Now? No.

There is considerable urgency here.
09/12/2017 02:39 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2017
Stephen Yang / Reuters

The people in the federal government who deny climate change is real will do anything to avoid talking about it. Take EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, for example. He says it would be insensitive to talk about global warming while so many people are still suffering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Unfortunately, Democrats appear to be taking Pruitt’s advice. Politico reports that Democrats are “largely holding their fire on Republicans” about the links between these record storms and global warming. “We have a lot of time to make that point,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

With all due respect to Sen. Whitehouse – and he deserves a great deal of respect as one of Congress’s most persistent advocates for climate action – we do not have a lot of time to make that point. In fact, it has never been more important for politicians in Congress and the Trump Administration to acknowledge the links between global warming and the weather-related catastrophes happening across the nation.

There is considerable urgency here. There is the urgent need to prevent more of the pollution responsible for human-caused climate change by carrying out a rapid transition to carbon-free energy. There is the urgent need to stop Pruitt, Donald Trump and other members of the Trump administration from destroying any more of the federal government’s capacity to do something about global warming. The administration has dismissed climate scientists, disbanded advisory panels, taken down websites and so intimidated federal employees that they avoid using the words “climate change.”

It is obvious that the people whose homes and business are still under water have more important things to do right now than discussing global warming. But the same is not true for leaders in Congress and the White House. On the contrary, the many record-breaking weather-related catastrophes that have been taking place across the country this year make it clear that the climate conversation and climate action are long overdue.

To put a finer point on it, Pruitt is using disaster victims as an excuse not to talk about what is turning severe weather into one unprecedented calamity after another. We are all potential victims of disasters like these. We should demand that the Trump administration acknowledge climate-related risks and help us do something about them. Its continuing failure to do so is a shameful and dangerous dereliction of the administration’s duties.

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