THE BLOG
05/28/2015 12:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

For Republicans in 2016, Embracing Climate Change Solutions is Both Good Politics and Policy

The heavy campaigning for 2016 elections is already in full swing and with it the grandiose platforms and enticing promises with which candidates will aim to woo voters.

As we see perpetuated every two years and more so every four, political candidates will attempt to sell the American people on policy prescriptions that vary widely in scope and partisanship. In the coming months, voter bases will be riled, ideological rifts will be deepened and the Rs and the Ds will be galvanized by the boldness of their front-running candidates.

Yet as we come to know in the bleak Januaries following November election furor, politicians find it far easier to be bold while campaigning than they ever do while actually governing. Those enchanting November promises hit the cold, hard January political realities and both parties quickly lose the adoration of their recently hopeful supporters.

The issues most imminent in this country get held hostage in shameful congressional battles and inaction continues as the status quo for another two years until Americans can muster a bit more ill-fated hope.

But what if in 2016 there was a party that could solidify its relevancy and trust with the American people into perpetuity? What if one party stuck to its core tenets while rebuilding this country and ensuring its prowess as global leader and not the laggard of which it's often accused of being?

The party to which I'm referring is the Republican Party and the means to achieve the aforementioned goal is by enacting bold legislation to help America adapt to climate change.
If this sounds ludicrous, bear with me.

Climate change is happening and its effects most likely will be exceedingly potent in primarily the red states of the South and Midwest. As the map below indicates, the most costly natural disasters have been in these regions and the trend is only projected to get worse.

2015-05-27-1432733394-7283903-climatechangemap.png
(Source: National Climate Assessment 2014 Report nca2014.globalchange.gov)

The likes of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jim Inhofe likely have seen similar maps as they and their staff are given access to the best and most scientifically rigorous information each and every day.

These men aren't stupid and know the peril their home states face as consequence of climate change yet publically admitting so would be a terrible political strategy and would also mean that they would have to do something about the problem.

What if these Senators and their counterparts in the House enacted legislation that would allow states and municipalities to build the infrastructure and response systems necessary to adapt to climate change? Infrastructure to respond to rapid floods and storm surges, powerful hurricanes, heat waves, wild fires, droughts, and even increased snowfall.

As we've seen with Super Storm Sandy and even in the nations capitol where a fleeting derecho knocked out power for days, our nation's current infrastructure and emergency responses are ill equipped to bear increased and sustained extreme weather.

Republican leaders can bypass the "debate" on climate change and go straight to the solution space. Through this they will help create jobs, increase job security, spur innovation, protect public health, and allow Americans living in vulnerable regions to insure themselves against catastrophes and better prepare for their ramifications. Every American wants a safe place to live and the knowledge that if something bad happens that there are systems in place to help.

Adaptation to climate change will have to happen in this country regardless of whether or not our politicians publically acknowledge its existence.

Additionally, this proactive approach would ultimately mitigate how much government involvement is needed after a catastrophe and also allow industry to reap the benefits of better-equipped municipalities--two formidable Republican concerns. Think how many FEMA funds could be saved if our communities could be prepared for climate disasters and not merely be left wondering when the next big one will hit.

Despite all the practical ramifications of this proposal the best part for Republicans may be that Democrats couldn't obstruct such legislation because many of them have run on a platform of action on climate change. Democrats couldn't be hypocrites when it comes to action on one of their central tenets hence Republicans save the day and get all the credit for doing so.

What's the worst that can happen if we invest in the integrity of our infrastructure and safety of our communities? Even if climate change turns out to be the greatest hoax of our time, giving our nation these tools will likely prove to be an invaluable investment of resources.

The reason that we've made it this far as a species is because of our ability to adapt to our natural environment. This ability of ours will be greatly tested in the decades to come and Congress holds the key to our success.