Messers. Trump and Pruitt – it is the Environmental Protection Agency

Almost one year ago, the President of the United States announced a plan to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Accord making the US a very isolated country on the world stage. That announcement both betrays and galvanizes further the significant efforts and science behind America’s push toward renewable energy and conservation.

Yet, that is only part of the attack by this administration on our home planet. Under the tutelage of Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency, has decided to have an all out war on science and the environment. The orchestrated removal of climate change science data accessible by the EPA website and the repositioning, demotion or firing of some scientists, is indicative of a parent wanting to mask the fact they do drugs from their kids.

Pruitt has also tried successfully and unsuccessfully to let companies pollute waterways and the environment with fewer repercussions. The fact we have a global water shortage is irrelevant. He has also championed the ability for industry to question the EPA’s data. That may sound good, but industry has challenged data for years and, as a country, we do not adhere to the Precautionary Principle.

This principle states that if it is believed an industry is polluting the environment, then they must prove they are not before going further. In the US, industry has to be proven they wronged people many years after the fact. The reason Erin Brockovich is so famous is it is rare to win against industry. The sad part is people have died or been made ill by then. The Pruitt change is to let industry cherry pick data more easily. I should note the flame retardant industry used a study that had nothing to do with that issue to show the retardants were safe – it was proven they cause cancer in firefighters, toddlers and mothers.

Last week, a new report came out that noted the Outer Banks of North Carolina will be the hardest hit region by rising tides by the end of the century. Yet, the report eliminated any reference to man’s influence of climate change. It should be noted a few years earlier, the NC General Assembly refused to accept a similar finding, but paid for a report that used the past 100 years sea level increase as a guide for the future showing an increase of 8 inches versus 39 inches per the scientists. Apparently, that report has been proven faulty.

Finally, a report by the United Nations has estimated the failure to address climate change will cost the world $100 trillion in US dollars. Some have cried foul over this number, but I would add a study sanctioned by the world’s largest pension scheme (plan) investors in 2010 estimated the cost of repairing climate change problems in the $10 trillion to $20 trillion range. The key word in both is trillion.

We should recognize these numbers are guesses backed by science and some rationale. I would quibble less if the numbers are toward either end and focus on the observation that doing nothing will cost money and a lot of it. Hurricanes are more severe now when they hit shore from elevated sea levels. The costs to fix the damage run in the tens to hundreds of billions range. When you multiple just the hurricanes by these cost fixes, then one can see how the numbers can rise.

If that does not scare, there is a new term that should called “sunny day flooding.” These are days when high tides flood the streets of coastal cities when no storm is present. These days are increasing significantly in places like Miami, Hampton Roads, Charleston, New Orleans, etc. In the next fifteen to twenty years, some of these cities may have fewer non-flooding days than flooding ones.

So, Messers. Trump and Pruitt, you can choose to play ostrich all you want, but the people that care about our home need to move forward. It would be nice if you were an enabler rather than a blocker.

6 thoughts on “Messers. Trump and Pruitt – it is the Environmental Protection Agency

  1. Note to Readers: One of the concerns of people and businesses with coastal property is accessing affordable property insurance. Insurers tend to deal with real data to make sure they assess risk properly. Often, they will spread the risk via reinsurance. On Bald Head Island at the southern tip of the Outer Banks of NC, many homes have been built to close to the shore and have been consumed by the sea. They must be built further back and some cannot get full coverage on their rebuilt home.

    In Ecuador, the Pacific Ocean continues to encroach and people have fought the tide to no avail. More money will just buy time. So, many coastal villagers are moving inland to higher elevations. In low lying Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands from fishing villages have moved to inland cities, placing increasing pressures on city services and jobs.

  2. Dear Keith,

    It is becoming more and more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal areas and for good reason. The risk is too high.

    It is a fact that fixing the infrastructure to mitigate against extreme weather negative consequences needs to be faced by all of us, including businesses that will also be dealing with claim losses/ expenses.

    I’m writing USAA executives as to what the insurance industry is doing to counter the oil industries’ big lie to the American public that “climate change” is not real.

    Frankly, there needs to be push back.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, I am glad you are writing them. A few thoughts. It is not just flood insurance, it is general property insurance. You might find of use in your letter that Georgia State University, renowned for its actuarial science and risk management has course work on climate change risk and Marsh McLennan Companies, one of the largest insurance brokers in the world, raises climate change risk with their clients. And, if that is not enough, in Oklshoma, property insurers are suing frackers over property damage due to earthquakes from fracking.

      The fossil fuel industry has paid Republican lawmakers to look the other way, but they know climate change risk is real. They just want to transition on their timetable. Fortunately, institutional investors are pushing harder on them. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I find it interesting that Pruitt and his lieutenants have been caught emailing with a group called the Heartland Institute, a renowned climate change denial organization. Pruitt might want to check with the farmers in his home state about their concerns over water drying up faster due to climate change.

    • Gronda, living in Florida, you have more skin in the game. Rick Scott needs to be reminded of his poor stewardship of his state on this issue. Thanks, Keith

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