Guest essay by Eric Worrall
As Hurricane Harvey survivors struggle with the aftermath, the cleanup, with power outages and portable generators, reporters far away in comfortable offices in New York think they have a solution to their problems; a new carbon tax.
We Don’t Deny Harvey, So Why Deny Climate Change?
Nicholas Kristof SEPT. 2, 2017
Imagine that after the 9/11 attacks, the conversation had been limited to the tragedy in Lower Manhattan, the heroism of rescuers and the high heels of the visiting first lady — without addressing the risks of future terrorism.
That’s how we have viewed Hurricane Harvey in Houston, as a gripping human drama but without adequate discussion of how climate change increases risks of such cataclysms. We can’t have an intelligent conversation about Harvey without also discussing climate change.
Remember also that we in the rich world are the lucky ones. We lose homes to climate change, but in much of the world families lose something far more precious: their babies. Climate change increases risks of war, instability, disease and hunger in vulnerable parts of the globe, and I was seared while reporting in Madagascar about children starving apparently as a consequence of climate change.
An obvious first step is to embrace the Paris climate accord. A second step would be to put a price on carbon, perhaps through a carbon tax to pay for tax cuts or disaster relief.
We also must adapt to a new normal — and that’s something Democratic and Republican politicians alike are afraid to do. We keep building in vulnerable coastal areas and on flood plains, pretty much daring Mother Nature to whack us.
A week and a half ago, Republicans and Democrats traveled to see the solar eclipse and gazed upward at the appointed hour, because they believed scientific predictions about what would unfold. Why can’t we all similarly respect scientists’ predictions about our cooking of our only planet?
I once had to power my home for a week from a portable generator, thanks to outages caused by a major tropical storm. A portable generator is an expensive way to produce power, but its better than letting the food spoil.
The last thing people in that situation need is higher fuel bills.