Our main complaint about politicians has always been the degree of self-interest demonstrated by so many elected officials. That is especially true about the new crew in the White House.
Cracks appeared last week in that otherwise self-aggrandizing gaggle of mirror-gazers. Two senators — Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Bob Corker of Virginia — are openly opposing President Trump and the Republican Party, and announced their intention not to seek re-election, for moral and ethical reasons.
We are shocked by such honesty, but not completely surprised, having listened to both men’s reasoning, which involves taking a high road seldom traveled by members of Congress and some recent White House residents.
President Trump is outwardly unfazed by these defections, and has kept up the steady twitter drumbeat on a laundry list of essentially meaningless issues.
However, the president is standing by his vow to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, helped facilitate. The only other major nation to stay out of the agreement is Syria, which raises questions about the company the Trump administration chooses to keep.
Trump’s insistence on not being part of the climate deal is interesting, because so many American cities will be under water by the turn of the century, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists list of U.S. cities at greatest risk of rising sea levels. Some names that pop up prominently are New York, Miami and areas around San Francisco.
Many regions along the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf Coast could be under water by 2035, if current models predicting the rate of sea level rise are correct.
Those of us living here on the Central Coast are not so much at risk of rising sea levels as some lower-lying regions, but drought and wildfires are definitely important local issues.
The federal government has spent more than $350 billion in the last decade on disaster assistance, flood losses and crop insurance programs. That eye-popping dollar figure does not include what has and will be spent on this year’s weather-related calamities, including three major hurricanes and wildfires in western states.
The federal government’s General Accounting Office prepared the financial report, and chastised its bosses for their general failure to plan for such emergencies — perhaps in part because President Trump and many of his Cabinet members maintain that climate change is a hoax.
We’re fairly certain that what happened in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico in recent months did not involve a hoax. Nor are the wildfires ravaging so many communities in California.
We will say this, politicians are very good at two things — denial of undeniable facts, and not being able to see beyond their own re-election. The Trump team has been campaigning for the 2020 presidential election since the 2016 elections results were announced last November.
Members of the Trump administration apparently don’t trust science that warns of sea level rise inundating coastal cities, decreasing crop yields in the Midwest, and worsening heat waves, drought and wildfires in the West.
The current administration seems to believe planning for global climate change is less important than promoting and protecting industries that are part of the problem. In other words, avoiding the long view for the immediate gratification of the shorter perspective.
Both interests can, and should be served. The Paris climate deal Trump is backing away from will address how to mitigate the effects of a changing climate, and also facilitate the needs of various industries. Too bad we won’t be part of it.