OK, we get it: The climate deniers in Congress don’t want the country to do anything to rein in greenhouse gas pollution from their favorite filthy industries.
But are they willing, at the very least, to help Americans adapt as the weather turns deadly around them? We will soon know the answer to that question.
President Barack Obama visited California’s Central Valley farming region on Friday to announce disaster relief for the drought-ravaged state. And, while he was there, he announced his vision for $1 billion in climate-adaptation spending.
It’s not clear whether the drought afflicting more than 90 percent of California can be directly blamed on climate change — shifting conditions in the Pacific Ocean and other natural fluctuations may also be responsible. But we do know that droughts like this will continue to occur more frequently as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere. Climate models warn that California will continue to get drier, with the mountain snowpacks that are relied on for year-round water supplies expected to dwindle.
The short-term disaster aid pledged by Obama on Friday included $100 million to help Californian farmers cope with livestock losses, $60 million plus meal assistance for affected Californian families, and $15 million to help farmers in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico squeeze more out of every gallon of water.
In the longer term, Obama announced that he wants to establish a “climate resilience fund.” The Washington Post outlines what that means:
Cities across the country are formulating and, in some cases, enacting their own plans to protect against rising water, increased temperatures and more frequent severe weather. …
Obama would spend the $1 billion to “better understand the projected impacts of climate change,” encourage local action to reduce future risk, and fund technology and infrastructure that will be more resilient to climate change, according to briefing documents released by the White House.
Paul Bledsoe, senior fellow on energy and society at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said that Democrats and Republicans in Congress “don’t have to agree” on whether the combustion of fossil fuels is causing climate change.
“We just need to agree we have a problem that must be dealt with,” said Bledsoe, who was an Interior Department official under President Bill Clinton.
The climate resilience fund will be part of Obama’s 2015 budget, to be released next month. Don’t expect Republicans in Congress to be too enthusiastic.