Hurricane Irma linked to climate change? For some, a very ‘insensitive’ question

The New York Times reports: Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, says it is insensitive to discuss climate change in the midst of deadly storms.

Tomás Regalado, the Republican mayor of Miami whose citizens raced to evacuate before Hurricane Irma, says if not now, when?

“This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the E.P.A. and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change,” Mr. Regalado told the Miami Herald. “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

For scientists, drawing links between warming global temperatures and the ferocity of hurricanes is about as controversial as talking about geology after an earthquake. But in Washington, where science is increasingly political, the fact that oceans and atmosphere are warming and that the heat is propelling storms into superstorms has become as sensitive as talking about gun control in the wake of a mass shooting.

“To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced,” Mr. Pruitt said to CNN in an interview ahead of Hurricane Irma, echoing similar sentiments he made when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas two weeks earlier. “To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this people in Florida,” he added.

Ben Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said he believes failing to discuss climate change hurts Florida and the entire country.

“It’s precisely the conversation that we should be having right now. I’m not sure what’s insensitive about that,” said Dr. Kirtman, who evacuated from Florida on Wednesday. “It’s really important to direct resources and funds to the crisis on the ground at the moment, of course. But I don’t see why what’s causing these storms and what’s contributing to making it worse is necessarily mutually exclusive.” [Continue reading…]

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