Calamity and Climate Change- Will Trump Deny Floods?

The city of Houston is nearly underwater, thanks to the relentless Hurricane Harvey, which Vice President Mike Pence referred to on Friday as  “frustrating.” Harvey remains now where it has been for several days, dumping trillions of gallons of rain on an already inundated and devastated region. Twenty two lives have been lost, and authorities fear the worst is yet to come, in what is already the worst continental rainstorm in American history.

The enthusiastic president has traveled to Corpus Christi, to take a distant look for himself at what has proved to be a truly terrible disaster. A Houston police officer drowned this morning, after attempting a different route to his assigned coordinate, where he encountered the high water that trapped him in his car and killed him.
Trump still doesn’t seem to be understanding the gravity of it all. “What a crowd. What a turnout”, he said upon touching down in Corpus Christi, vowing to congratulate himself at a later time. He spent the hours before the storm pardoning Joe Arpaio and ordering that immigration checkpoints remain open during the evacuation process. All but giddy, every time he talks about the “big, big hurricane”, it would seem he’s very happy to have been given a chance to show his mettle. This is ironic. Because Trump himself, has been a disaster for any kind of emergency relief program, including this one.

When President Trump released his proposed budget earlier this year, it included cuts across the board — including hundreds of millions from programs that help Americans cope with disasters like Hurricane Harvey.

Gigantic cuts are proposed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency charged with overseeing the government’s response to Hurricane Harvey, as well as other natural disasters. The National Weather Service and the government’s flood insurance programs are to be cut as well.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham noted Tuesday on “Fox & Friends” that FEMA administrator Brock Long is still without a deputy.

From looking at photos of flooded Houston, she said: “We can conclude that a federal government does need staff. We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this.”

But, mere moments later, Trump took to Twitter by way of a response, tweeting: “@foxandfriends We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”

It is a very good thing for the people of Houston, that Trump had not yet gotten around to reducing the people who’ve been saving them, the heroic holdovers from President Obama’s administration Kathleen Fox and David Grant.

Two weeks ago, just before his disgusting rant at the news conference in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence days earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia. President Donald Trump unveiled an executive order killing planned regulations on new infrastructure building.

Among them was a rule that would have required federally funded projects to account for flood risks. Ten days later, Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall in Texas. This order revoked a whole set of Obama-era rules and regulations that would have made federally-funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding. It would have required the federal government to factor in the risk of flooding and sea-level rise, as a result of climate change, when constructing new infrastructure and rebuilding after disasters. Would have been nice, except that Trump doesn’t believe in climate change.
Trump’s entire climate approach, activists say, belies a profound insincerity at his administration’s response to the catastrophic flooding in the region. His strategy is to rip up any and all regulations that interfere with the short-term gain of wealth. This is the same strategy that gave us the Dust Bowl, which is another thing that could happen again if Trump policies in this area come to life. Cities like Houston, particularly the at-risk section of the people, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to future catastrophe.
“While Trump is speaking to people impacted by the storm, his policies themselves are going to make the lives of people in these storm-prone areas worse,” said Thanu Yakupitiyage, the US communications manager for 350.org. Well said.
Back in June, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, was one of dozens of American city leaders to pledge continued support for the Paris climate agreement, after Trump announced his intent to back us out. Scientists across the planet are universal in their conclusions that human effects on the climate are adding to the general trend of worsening storms. Although our knowledge of how the weather works is still very much incomplete, it is safe to say that human-caused climate change has enhanced Hurricane Harvey.
Not according to the president, however. He called climate change “a hoax invented by the Chinese.” 
A guy like that isn’t someone you can even talk to. It would take Archie Bunker himself, to hold fast so tight to a belief that not only flies in the face of scientific evidence, but threatens the long-term health and safety of every living thing. And all for a little more money. Here is a picture of the Manhattan Skyline in 1973, compared to now.

Image result for manhattan skyline 1973 compared to 2016

There comes a time in every adult life when they’ve got to face reality. For example, if you don’t change the oil in your car, it will turn before long into a very, very big and huge paperweight. How much more so is this true, regarding the upkeep of an entire city, or country, or world? However, unpleasant as it is, the reality of our current situation is that our President will not accept this crucial concept. Donald Trump has been a climate-change denier from the first.
By vital contrast, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform had the following statement to make on the subject.
“Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
Democrats are aware that climate change is one of the most critical challenges that this nation has to face. Hurricane Harvey is the latest addition to a long list of disastrous proofs. Properly addressing this urgent threat will ensure America’s place as the world’s clean energy superpower, and continue to assure us a role of global leadership in the ongoing process of finding solutions. Democrats will continue to fight to return us to the table of the Paris Agreement. Our goal is to protect both our nation and our planet, for this and future generations.
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Heroic Holdovers and Houston- Thanks, President Obama.

Donald Trump has been boasting about the federal government’s stellar response so far to the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. For once, he is absolutely right- and we have President Barack Obama to thank for it. Currently, the holdover heroes from Obama’s presidency, David Grant, and Kathleen Fox, are the ones most directly responsible for the organization of actual efforts on the ground. All Trump did, was to sign the piece of paper put in front of him to authorize federal aid. FEMA was reshaped, streamlined, and made viable, by the wisdom and decency of our former president.

That did not stop Trump from stealing all the credit, though. He spent Sunday coping with the problem the only way he knows how- by going on Twitter and bragging. He seemed more excited than anything by the storm. He repeatedly sent out tweets regarding its size and potency, but did not have any words at all for the most tragic aspect of this disaster yet- the two people who have lost their lives so far.
Trump’s administration wants to show the public they are capable of adequately addressing this catastrophe. The handling of a natural disaster is a defining moment for any presidency.  As a general rule, though, it’s bad to go into any crisis, including a gigantic hurricane, with a federal government at war with itself.
Trump’s White House did little to prepare. Instead, Trump spent the hours before the impending storm starting a political hurricane to go with the real one, by granting an unpopular pardon to the former Sheriff of Phoenix, Joe Arpaio.
Fortunately for the good people of Houston, however, Trump has been unable yet to fill two out of three politically appointed positions in FEMA. Trump took so long in deciding who he wanted to do the jobs, that his picks did not have time to be confirmed before the Senate went on recess. The same goes with the top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors storms.
This leaves FEMA’s administrator, Brock Long, who said that this storm was “unlike anything ever seen before. FEMA is going to be there for years,” Long added Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. There is no doubt this is true. In the meantime, however, the aforementioned Grant and Fox are running the show on the ground, and we are very grateful for them.“Federal civilian employees with decades of experience are currently serving as acting in those positions,” a FEMA spokesperson said.

R. David Paulison, who succeeded the Bush administration’s FEMA director Michael Brown after the latter resigned in the wake of national outrage to his feeble Katrina response, said he is “very comfortable” with the leadership currently in place.

“You like those positions filled,” he said, especially “as you put your policies in place, you want to put your own people in.” But, he added, “The people there in acting positions are seasoned FEMA executives. They’ve been there a long time.”

Unfortunately these efforts have been needlessly complicated, by the fact of major evacuation routes having to pass through immigration checkpoints. These have remained open throughout, contrary to the dictates both of reason and conscience.
Things are certainly looking brighter than they did in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the coast of New Orleans, in the most destructive storm ever to be wrought upon our shores. President Obama saw to that while he was still serving. But one can’t help wondering, what will happen once these heroic holdovers are gone? There is no evidence at all that Trump’s usual sloven would not have carried the day, had it not been for them. It nearly did anyhow.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the citizens of America should not count on the Trump administration to be able to handle a disaster of this magnitude properly. Over the twelve years that have passed since Katrina, extensive studies have been undertaken in the area of disaster relief. The key implication of them is that government does play a vital role, but that it is also our own responsibility to watch each other’s backs and be prepared. The former president said himself, “We can’t control the weather, but we can control our responses to it“.