Last fall I thought about using this title to write about denying federal aid for climate change related disasters to states with administrations that deny climate change. To those governors and legislatures who take no or little action to prepare for sea level rise, increased precipitation events, more intense storms, droughts, etc. that science tells us is going to happen. According to the Center for American Action Fund, in 2016, 21 governors denied the science behind climate change. Why should taxpayers across the country be expected to bail out Florida, for example, where Governor Rick Scott has reportedly stifled state agencies from dealing with climate change and created a culture where state employees are wary of publicly using the words “climate change” or “global warming.” Florida has hundreds of thousands of homes (900,000 by some estimates) at risk from sea level rise. It will be one of the states hardest and most costly hit. Why should we provide federal aid to states like Oklahoma where the attorney general, Scott Pruitt, who reportedly accepted $350,000 in campaign contributions from energy related businesses during his political career, has sued the EPA many times over clean air regulations designed to lessen the impacts of global warming? Oh wait, he has been nominated to be the next head of EPA and promises to undue all of those annoying regulations.
With a self-proclaimed climate skeptic at the helm of EPA and a President who believes climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China, there will be little appetite for tackling the challenges ahead, let alone deny federal aid to the deniers. After all that would be bad for the economy and cost us thousands of jobs. It appears the new administration’s attitude toward climate change is not to worry about future generations and what they will face if we do not take action now.
So what are we to do? We can deny the deniers in another way. Let us deny the deniers from taking control of the climate agenda. Let us double down on our efforts at addressing climate change issues. If no one at the national government level is going to take a leadership role, others need to step up. California Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to “…make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington.” At a talk hosted by the China General Chamber of Commerce, Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that American cities would continue to enact climate policies no matter what President Trump and the federal government decide to do. We all can and should do something to keep climate change response moving in a positive direction.
Sixty-seven percent of Americans think climate change is real. We need to continue to push for progress at the state and local level. We can put policies and strategies in place over the next four years (hopefully) so that when a new administration takes office in Washington, we are ready to go. The majority of the people in this country believe in climate change and in America the will of the majority rules, at least in everything but presidential elections.