Irony About Climate Change in New Orleans

Image of Earth 7-6-15 from DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory)

It is no surprise the Heartland Institute hosted a conference called “The America First Energy Conference” for climate change deniers on Aug. 7 in New Orleans.

Heartland is the libertarian think tank that teamed up with Philip Morris to deny the health impacts of tobacco use. Climate change denial is high on their priority list.

“The day-long conference reflected the political rise of global warming skeptics in Donald Trump’s America that is occurring despite mounting scientific evidence, including from U.S. government agencies,” Reuters correspondent Collin Eaton wrote, “that burning oil, coal, and natural gas is heating the planet and leading to drought, floods, wildfires, and more frequent powerful storms.”

“The leftist claims about sea level rise are overblown, overstated or frankly just wrong,” Heartland president and CEO Tim Huelskamp said in an interview with Reuters. Regarding the United Nations’ findings on climate change, he said it was “fake science” motivated by a desire for “power and control.”

An irony is the conference is being held in the American city most impacted by extreme weather made worse by climate change. New Orleans has not recovered and may never recover from the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina.

“One of the country’s largest credit rating agencies has put New Orleans and other coastal cities on notice: prepare for the effects of climate change or risk a hit on your credit score,” according to Tristan Baurick at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. When the risk analysis community says it, it must be real.

Climate change is real, it’s happening now, and human activity is a primary contributor to extreme weather events like New Orleans experienced.

The rise of a conference like this is attributable almost entirely to the rise in prominence of libertarian billionaires with a long range plans to re-make American society to their liking. They believe their liberties have been infringed upon by government regulations and the Trump administration has been removing barriers to the practice of unfettered capitalism. That’s not good for you, me, or the people of New Orleans.

It is shocking how much the Trump administration has deregulated government in less than two years. The fact the Environmental Protection Agency is deregulating asbestos, a known carcinogen banned in 55 countries, is a sign of how far they will go. The only check on such behavior is for Democrats to win a majority in at least one chamber of the next Congress during the 2018 midterm elections, or to vote Trump out in the 2020 general election. Much damage has already been done. Some of it can’t be reversed.

I met a nine-year-old from Saudi Arabia recently. He lives with his extended family on the Arabian Peninsula and has come to Iowa the last couple of years to visit his mother before school starts in September. We talked about the weather.

“It sure is hot,” I said.

“Yes, but I don’t believe it is climate change,” he replied.

“No, probably not,” I said. “It’s August in Iowa.”

It is one thing for children to learn the difference between weather and climate change. When adults in the room deny the science of climate change, it’s something else. It’s clear there were few adults at the conference in New Orleans.

~ First posted on Blog for Iowa

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