Podesta: ‘If Republicans really cared about hurricane victims, they’d stop denying climate change’
“If you were watching the Republican National Convention this week, you might have missed the news: Millions of acres of land across the West are on fire, families are living in extreme heat in Arizona, and the Category 4 Hurricane Laura slammed into the Gulf Coast.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, John Podesta, in an op-ed, published by NBC News, argued that Republican thoughts and prayers to victims and survivors of extreme weather events like Hurricane Laura are empty gestures if not backed up by concrete policies and plans to combat climate change.
Key sections below:
No one put forward plans or solutions to the biggest threat to our country’s future; the only thing the GOP was able to offer is their “thoughts and prayers.” But when the climate crisis is destroying homes, ravaging farms and agricultural businesses, leveling entire communities and killing people, thoughts and prayers are not enough.
Denial is not a plan, though, and “thoughts and prayers” are not a solution. That this is all they have for us shouldn’t be surprising; the GOP has been offering prayers in lieu of policies for years. Whether in response to gun violence, an inequitable health care system, police brutality, the climate crisis or now a worldwide pandemic, Republicans are blindly following both their long-standing playbook and the direction of a president who dismisses 180,000 dead Americans and counting with a glib, “It is what it is.”
We can’t ignore the reality before us. Climate change is making storms, fires, and hurricanes more frequent, dangerous, and deadly. Warming seas and a wetter atmosphere are supercharging hurricanes by increasing rainfall, worsening flood risks, and leading to rapid intensification. This is why Hurricane Laura rapidly strengthened over the 24 hours before it came ashore.
We’re already living the economic consequences of climate change. The number of billion-dollar disasters over the last 10 years has been historically large: One hundred and twenty-three extreme weather events cost the U.S. more than $800 billion. In 2019 alone, weather and climate disasters cost the United States more than $45 billion. Economists say if we don’t act, climate change could cut the U.S. economy by up to 10 percent, kill millions of jobs and cost Americans tens of trillions of dollars in the coming decades.
During the middle of this pandemic, the administration allowed more than 3,000 polluters to have free rein to pollute our air and water under the guise of loosening regulations. They gave waivers to oil and gas companies, allowing them to curb environmental monitoring standards and skip testing altogether for some refineries and gas stations. In August, the Trump administration even approved oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — one of the country’s last wild places.