Photo credit: thegreenj via Wikimedia/CC BY-SA
Last year, natural disasters left 42 million people homeless -- twice as many as in 2009. 10% of those people were hit by earthquakes. The rest were victims of flooding, drought, heatwaves, and tropical storms, all of which scientists say are exacerbated by climate change. This year, in the United States, floods along the Mississippi and wildfires in Texas caused tens of thousands to flee their homes -- and hundreds were killed. All this seems to point to the fact that we need more and better climate adaptation efforts. And yet the GOP has just led a vote to block an effort that would let the Department of Homeland Security help American communities adapt to climate change. Smart.Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress Green has the details:
the House adopted an amendment by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from participating in the Obama administration's Interagency Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation. Carter justified his amendment by saying DHS -- which includes the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) -- should focus on the Mexican border instead of "duplicating the work" of agencies that monitor climate change and greenhouse pollutionThis, unfortunately, isn't the case at all. The US Coast Guard is a crucial responder to natural disasters -- just this year, it mobilized the effort to prevent an 180-mile stretch of the Missouri River from flooding. And FEMA has responded to dozens of climate-related disasters already this year.
These are precisely the sort of agencies we need to start better understanding the impacts of climate change, and working with scientists and experts who can best advise adaptation efforts. Seeing as how this sort of extreme weather is the "new normal", we need all hands on deck to respond -- and working to prevent such disasters from taking such massive tolls.
As Johnson writes, "The work of the climate adaptation task force, including the Department of Homeland Security, to mobilize our nation against climate disasters is desperately needed". Indeed. Too bad the GOP doesn't see it that way.
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