Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The day after withdrawing from Paris, Trump declared a flooding disaster in Missouri

John Abraham
Tuesday 6 June 2017

I was debating this article. Should I write about the news that just occurred, or the news that will occur soon? I chose the past event – flooding in Missouri, USA. I will save a soon-to-collapse portion of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica for my next article.

It’s sad, but true, that there are mounting ironies around Trump’s scientific ignorance on climate change and his ditching of the Paris Accord to reduce global warming. Scientists know the Earth is warming and that humans are the cause. One consequence of the warming is that weather is becoming more extreme. This means we are getting more extreme storms, including rain and floods. As our nation and the world suffers from the extreme weather, we can reflect on how things could have been different had our politicians heeded the warnings.

While President Trump’s pulling from the Paris treaty was worldwide news, what was not covered as well was his declaration the very next day that the state of Missouri is a disaster area because of flooding.

Why is flooding a symptom of warming? As air warms, it holds more moisture - it’s more humid. As the Earth warms, it means that the atmosphere holds more moisture year round. That moisture falls during storms as rain. What’s interesting is that the result is more of the most severe rains. That is, when it rains, it’s raining harder. Consequently, more flooding occurs. And we are seeing that across our nation. If you look at the trends in the most severe downpours, they are increasing – everywhere.

One example are the recent floods in Missouri, which occurred during the month of May. On or around May 24th, 2017, the Missouri governor requested disaster aid for 45 counties in the state. The president granted the aid on June 2nd. The federal aid will help the state recover from approximately $28 million in residential losses and $58 million in municipal damage. Images from the flood have been widely available online for people to witness the disaster.

This flood isn’t a single event. There has been much recent reporting on other floods in Missouri and elsewhere throughout 2015 and 2016. For instance, here describes flooding in August 2016 and the infamous December flood in 2015, which killed at least 13 people. The kinds of extreme weather we are seeing now will continue to get worse and cause far more damage in the future. This is but the tip of the iceberg.


But, it isn’t clear we will have such foresight. Not only do we have a president who is on a warpath to destroy our mitigation and adaptation efforts, but he is aided by people within states like Missouri. For instance, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is a well-known denier of human-caused climate change.


A remnant organization of the prior USA president, Organizing for Action, also lists some of the most well known deniers and climate impacts on their states. For Missouri, it isn’t just the most recent years of flooding; the disasters have piled up for a while. For instance, as reported:

Over the past 10 years, more than 15 billion-dollar disasters have occurred in Missouri.
In 2011, extreme weather killed 180 people and cost $3.3 billion.
In 2009, there were almost 1200 hospital visits for heat stress.

A large list of some of the most well-known deniers are provided here so readers can find out who to thank when weather – pumped up by human warming – comes to their neighborhood.

So, will people put 2 and 2 together as they pick up the pieces of their lives and homes? Will they think about the irony that the people they elected have helped blocked our efforts to reduce the very floods that destroyed their communities? I think they will. I think the collective legacy of the extreme weather and its impacts on our communities will be a told repeatedly by future generations.
[I hope he's right. I don't have much faith in people being rational.]

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