Be unprepared: the GOP war against climate adaptation
Photo: CorpsNewEnglandSome people naively believe we can get D.C. politicians to support adaptation funding if only we stop talking about climate science. They call themselves “climate pragmatists.” The true realists among us call them hopelessly naïve.
The fact is that if you reject science — if you think climate science in particular is some sort of liberal plot — then the last thing you would do is spend money “planning” or “adapting” for climate change.
The anti-science extremists who now run the House, of course, are not merely climate science deniers. They believe slashing all forms of government spending is more important than, say, voting to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States — even during the midst of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
So other than the faux pragmatists, the rest of us aren’t surprised in the least that the GOP-led House has been voting to gut climate adaptation efforts across the federal government — including even the most minimal planning efforts. ThinkProgress Green has a list:
NOAA CLIMATE SERVICE: In the Commerce, Justice, and Science committee report, “it is the Committee’s intention that no funds shall be used [PDF] to create a Climate Service at NOAA.”
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CLIMATE READINESS: Language in the Energy and Water appropriation committee report offered by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) prohibits spending on response to climate change in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, with $4.9 million cut from their budget and transferred to the Spending Reduction Account. Approved by a House vote of 218-191.
AGRICULTURE CLIMATE READINESS: A rider in the Agriculture appropriation (Sec. 755) blocks the Agriculture Department (USDA) from carrying out its Policy Statement on Climate Adaptation. The rider by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) would prevent the USDA from even assessing what impacts climate change might have on farmers, foresters and other landholders. Approved by a House vote of 238-179.
HOMELAND SECURITY CLIMATE READINESS: A provision in the Homeland Security appropriation (H.R. 2017, Sec. 707) offered by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) prevents the Department of Homeland Security from running its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Approved by a House vote of 242-180.
Yes, that’s right — the Army Corps can’t plan for climate change in its projects.
And the Department of Agriculture can’t either! Here’s more on that from Greenwire:
The amendment, which passed 238-179 and was offered by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) to the fiscal 2012 Agriculture spending bill, would prohibit USDA from using funds to implement its June 3 departmental regulation calling for an assessment of how increased occurrence of severe weather events linked to climate change may affect the department’s operations — and the farmers it serves. A final assessment of USDA’s vulnerabilities to climate change is due to be completed by March 2012.
“Climate change adaptation is a critical complement to mitigation,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the June 3 policy statement. “Both are required to address the causes and consequences of climate change. Through adaptation planning, USDA will develop, prioritize, implement, and evaluate actions to minimize climate risks and exploit new opportunities that climate change may bring.”
So we know that climate change makes certain extreme weather events that are particularly harmful to farmers — heat waves, droughts, floods — more likely and more severe. But the House doesn’t want anyone planning for that.
And that’s not all. If you think the deniers care that the richest countries — who got rich releasing most of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change to date — feel any responsibility whatsoever to help the poorest in other countries deal with the mess we created, well, you must be a climate pragmatist:
A panel of the U.S. Congress on Thursday moved to bar foreign assistance related to climate change, defying President Barack Obama’s calls to contribute as part of an international accord. On a party line vote, the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to ban funding in next year’s budget for Obama’s initiative to support poor nations in adapting to climate change or pursuing clean energy …
The funding would include assistance to the poorest nations, including small islands, feeling the brunt of climate change, as well as efforts to encourage clean energy and to reduce deforestation.
The fact is that while some people certainly don’t want to hear about climate science, the failure by progressive political leaders and others to talk clearly and repeatedly about the science over the past two years in a failed effort to sell the climate bill has not made it more likely we will adapt, but less likely. If that’s pragmatism, please, please, give me some good, old-fashioned, science-based idealism.