Those delusions are shifting government policy. Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. He put a former climate-change denier in charge of NASA. The Energy Department tweeted that Secretary Rick Perry is “winning” against climate scientists. An outspoken climate scientist at the Interior Department was reassigned to the accounting office. After Scott Pruitt resigned from the Environmental Protection Agency in disgrace, he was replaced by Andrew Wheeler, a climate-change skeptic who previously worked as a lobbyist on behalf of coal-mining company Murray Energy (whose head, surprise, surprise, donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration). And this week, the Trump administration is trying to make it easier for polluters to release methane, one of the worst greenhouse gases.
In doing so, the man sworn to protect and defend the United States makes us all less safe while weakening the long-term vitality of the U.S. economy.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. You could also ask that flower-power hippie, Trump’s handpicked director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats. In February, he reiterated how much of a threat climate change is to America’s economic prosperity and national security.
Hurricane Florence is currently bearing down on the eastern seaboard. Trump rightly warned that the storm is “extremely dangerous.” He’s right. After all, Hurricane Maria killed nearly 3,000 Americans in its aftermath (even if Trump wants to pretend that those avoidable deaths were the product of a Democratic conspiracy against him).
Those tragic deaths and the economic damage that accompanied them are precisely why we need to think about climate change as an economic and security issue rather than just an environmental one.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — filled with a group of extremist “deep state” climate change fanatics known as “scientists” — made clear in a June update that extreme tropical storms and hurricanes will likely become more frequent and more destructive as a result of climate change “due to anthropogenic warming” (from human activity) and the “accompanying increase in atmospheric moisture content.”
In other words, we’re not only going to face more Harveys, more Marias and more Florences – but we are likely to face even worse unprecedented monster storms in the coming years and decades.
Last year, the economic damage to the U.S. economy from 17 tropical storms and hurricanes was estimated to total more than $200 billion. That figure eclipsed the previous worst year on record, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina contributed to the roughly $159 billion total in destruction. The Trump White House itself acknowledged that the 2017 hurricanes walloped not just Puerto Rico and Texas but also economic growth — including reducing “September employment growth by roughly 140,000.” That’s about twice as many jobs as the total number of people employed in the coal industry. Scientists are warning us that it’s going to get worse because of climate change, unless we act.
Generals are warning us, too. The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review in 2014 highlighted that climate change will act as a threat multiplier, exacerbating several key drivers of destabilization and violence. Global destabilization directly affects U.S. national security. We ignore the security risks presented by climate change at our own peril.
Science should not be partisan. The reality of climate change is a settled matter in the scientific community. If you mistakenly don’t believe that it is real, look at this powerful data visualization of temperature anomalies dating back to 1880 prepared by Antti Lipponen, a research scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The evidence is clear.
Admittedly, it is alarmist and scientifically ignorant to blame Hurricane Florence solely on climate change. But it’s even more foolish to ignore the scientific evidence that, on average, more Florences will hit the United States because of climate change. Scientists, economists and generals don’t always agree; when they do, it’s time to listen. The message they are sending is clear: You can’t put America first if you put climate change last.