As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida this weekend, just over a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas and left at least 70 people dead, the climate change debate has taken on a new sense of urgency.
At least four people have died and nearly 6 million people are without power in Florida, after Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sunday on the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm also flooded the streets of downtown Miami, turning the city’s main strip, Brickell Avenue, into a three-foot-high raging river. Its arrival sparked one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history, with nearly 7 million people ordered to leave their homes. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elizabeth Kolbert.
Since President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, there has been speculation that China could take the lead in the fight against climate change. China's leader Xi Jinping has certainly been eager to assume this role, just as he took up the cause of free trade against Trump's nationalist posturing.
Fred Magdoff is co-author of Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation, with Chris Williams, and What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism, with John Bellamy Foster. He talked to Michael Ware about the causes of the catastrophe that has struck Houston and the Gulf Coast--and what it will take to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Now is exactly the time to talk about climate change, and all the other systemic injustices — from racial profiling to economic austerity — that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes.
Turn on the coverage of the Hurricane Harvey and the Houston flooding and you’ll hear lots of talk about how unprecedented this kind of rainfall is. How no one saw it coming so no one could adequately prepare.
Humans are causing Earth’s climate to change. We know that. We’ve known it for decades. Okay so what? The follow-up questions should be directed to what the effects of warming will be. What will the costs be to society, to the natural biosystem, and to human lives? Let’s be honest, if the consequences of warming are not large, then who cares? But, if the consequences are severe, then we should take action now to reduce the warming. This really comes down to costs and benefits. Are the benefits of reducing emissions greater or less than the costs?
Against the sparkling backdrop of sailboats bobbing on San Francisco Bay, Gov. Jerry Brown last month signed a bill extending California’s cap-and-trade program, assuring that the most high-profile piece of the state’s fight against climate change persists for another decade.
The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.