For all their preaching, Democrats are doing little to combat the raging wildfires and hurricanes plaguing the nation’s coastlines.
Over the past few months, we have seen Hurricane Harvey drown Texas, Hurricane Irma plow through Florida, and Hurricane Maria decimate Puerto Rico. These storms are some of the strongest on record, and they were fueled by unusually warm Atlantic waters.
In California, higher temperatures and prolonged droughts have caused raging wildfires that have claimed 42 lives so far this year.
As if these fires haven’t been proof enough, models show that California is ill-prepared for the future.
Those most at risk live in developed areas near foothills, forests, or open land – such as the Bay Area and the Sierra foothills.
On top of the wildfire problem is an extreme housing shortage that is forcing California to build in previously unsettled areas, areas that are more at risk of wildfires.
Fires are also threatening suburban areas, which have little-to-no infrastructure in place to deal with fire because nobody ever expected a fire to sweep through a city.
“Starting this year, cities and counties are required to by state law to develop policies to address the risks that climate change poses to their communities,” reports the Los Angeles Times. This will, in theory, force vulnerable communities to decide how (or if) they can build new homes safely on the urban edge.
Time to act
With proof around every corner, this should be the perfect opportunity for Democrats to 1) Move forward with an ambitious agenda on climate change and 2) Condemn Republicans for not only ignoring – but contributing to – a crisis with staggering human and economic consequences.
But this isn’t happening. With healthcare and tax reform taking precedence, climate is not a frequent topic among lawmakers. The Democrats haven’t even managed to present a unified response to the GOP’s attack on the Clean Power Plan.
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) is one of few lawmakers to consistently speak about climate change. Along with Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Whitehouse is working on a carbon tax bill that also includes a generous reduction in the corporate income tax.
Whitehouse says has the private (but not public) support of between six and ten Republicans. “Talking to Republicans about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escape. Once you find safe passage for them through the fence, through the kill zone around the fence, then the getaway car on the other side is one we all agree on.”
White insists the “irrevocable force of fact” in regards to climate change will eventually cause a GOP turnaround on the issue.
By that time, it might be too late.