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At the Center for American Progress, Daniel J. Weiss, Jackie Weidman and Stephanie Pinkalla teamed up on a new study of the $62 billion that the federal government sent to the states in disaster aid during 2011-2012. Much of that money was spent to ameliorate the impact of extreme weather events during that period:
There is recent evidence that climate change played a role in the extreme weather events of 2012. The recently released analysis from the American Meteorological Society determined that:Now these 47 (and many like-minded colleagues in other states making up perhaps a third of Congress that can be called deniers) either don't accept the evidence of human-caused climate change because they're scientific illiterates or they do know that such change is happening but continue to spout their nonsense. Apparently those in the latter group are eager to keep collecting the campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies and various front groups that keep them in their congressional seats.
Approximately half the analyses found some evidence that anthropogenically caused climate change was a contributing factor to the extreme event examined, though the effects of natural fluctuations of weather and climate on the evolution of many of the extreme events played key roles as well.Interestingly, many of the states that received the most federal recovery aid to cope with climate-linked extreme weather have federal legislators who are climate-science deniers. The 10 states that received the most federal recovery aid in FY 2011 and 2012 elected 47 climate-science deniers to the Senate and the House. Nearly two-thirds of the senators from these top 10 recipient states voted against granting federal emergency aid to New Jersey and New York after Superstorm Sandy.
Whatever the case, the situation, scientists tell us, is going to worsen. As the CAP study's authors point out, in the 1980s, there were an annual average of less than two extreme weather events causing more than a $1 billion (in inflation-adjusted dollars). From 2010 to 2012, the annual average of billion-dollar extreme weather events was more than nine.
The CAP authors make several recommendations:
• Support programs to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, including continued support for President Obama's Climate Action Plan.
• Improve federal and state budget planning by following the National Academy of Sciences proposal for “a national resource of disaster-related data should be established that documents injuries, loss of life, property loss, and impacts on economic activity.”
• Urge Congress to provide full funding for disaster relief in future budget and spending bills, which, among other things will make clear to everyone the costs of extreme weather.
• Invest more federal funds in community efforts "to become more resilient to extreme weather." CAP recent found that the feds spent $6 on disaster recovery for every $1 on reducing disaster damages, "even though resilience investments reduce economic damages 4-to-1."
These are all reasonable ideas. But transforming most of them into policy requires either getting them past the 47 know-nothings (and other clueless deniers in Congress) or throwing them out on their ear at the next election. Either is a tall order. The consequences of doing neither ought to be clear enough by now to anyone who is really listening.