Storms in Texas last week caused deadly flooding, and conditions in some areas grew even worse over the weekend. NBC News has confirmed that at least 24 people have died in Texas in the floods, and the death toll climbs when victims in Oklahoma and Mexico are added to the tally.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), like many officials in the Lone Star State, has worked on securing federal disaster relief for the affected areas. What the far-right senator has not been willing to do, however, is answer questions about the environmental conditions that may be contributing to the floods themselves.
CNN reported the other day that Cruz finds himself “in a bind on climate change.”
The Republican presidential contender has held two press conferences over the past two days to address the flooding and the government’s response. At each one, he was asked about the impact of climate change on natural disasters like the Texas flooding, and at each one, he dodged the question.“In a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster – and so there’s plenty of time to talk about other issues,” he said in response to a question on his views on climate change during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
It’s a curious response. For one thing, it’s not entirely clear how Cruz defines “politicize” – to talk about environmental conditions contributing to an environmental disaster is “political”? Are we to believe references to science are inappropriate when Ted Cruz doesn’t like the data?
For another, Cruz’s rhetoric makes it sound as if he’d welcome a discussion about the climate crisis and its devastating, real-world effects – just not now. There’s “plenty of time” for this conversation, he said.
But the point is, Cruz has it backwards. As the crisis intensifies, and the disasters become more frequent and severe, there isn’t “plenty of time” for conversations that climate deniers always want to push away.
Over at ThinkProgress, Emily Atkin argued yesterday that “let’s not politicize this” carries with it a distinct “I’m not a scientist” vibe.
[It’s] a way to avoid talking about the science that says human-made carbon emissions are warming the earth and screwing with natural weather patterns. Cruz, for his part, says he does not accept that science.In the meantime, climate scientists across the country have been speaking out about the climate implications of the Texas floods. And on Friday, ThinkProgress asked several of those scientists to weigh in on Cruz’s comments.The overwhelming response: Talking about climate change after a weather tragedy is not political. In fact, it’s necessary.
Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, for example, said, “The science isn’t political. It’s the solutions that are political.”