For the last week, Floridians have been scrambling to prepare for Hurricane Irma, which has been deemed one of the most severe storms to ever hit the Atlantic. In the midst of these preparations on Friday, Miami’s Republican mayor, Tomás Regalado, told the Miami Herald that it’s now time for President Trump and his administration to talk about climate change.
Speaking from Miami’s Emergency Operations Center in downtown Miami, Regalado said:
‘This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change. If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.’
The fact that a Republican like Regalado is saying that the severity of Hurricane Irma is related to climate change is indeed significant. However, it seems unlikely that Trump or any of his cabinet members will take Regalado’s comments seriously. So far, they’ve done just the opposite.
On Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a phone interview with CNN that now is not the time to talk about climate change.
‘Here’s the issue. To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.’
‘What we need to focus on is access to clean water, addressing these areas of superfund activities that may cause an attack on water, these issues of access to fuel. … Those are things so important to citizens of Florida right now, and to discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there’s the… place (and time) to do that, it’s not now.’
Pruitt also stated that it was “insensitive” to talk about climate change while the EPA is focusing on assisting those in Florida who will be affected by Irma.
‘Congress should address that at some point. And Congress hasn’t. All I’m saying to you is, to use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this people in Florida.’
Pruitt made these comments despite the fact that a number of scientists have spoken at length about the ties between climate change and storms like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
Speaking to Reuters following Hurricane Harvey, Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that “there is universal agreement” that global warming boosts rainfall during hurricanes because warmer air holds more moisture. This increases the risk of severe floods.
‘If you look at long-term effects of hurricanes on society, the impacts are more about water than wind. Harvey is an example of how vulnerable modern society is to rainstorms as the climate warms. It’s solid physics.’
Emmanuel and others have also emphasized that storms like Harvey and Irma are not directly caused by climate change. However, Pruitt and the rest of the Trump administration should still be taking climate change seriously, as the damage caused by these storms — and the amount of money the federal government has to spend to repair them — is increased by the earth’s rising temperatures.
Featured image via Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images.