The climate crisis and ‘outdated standards’

The climate crisis and 'outdated standards'
The climate crisis and 'outdated standards'
Associated Press

When it comes to Republican rhetoric and the climate crisis, it’s been a discouraging August. In recent weeks, we’ve seen prominent congressional GOP lawmakers spout some truly ridiculous nonsense about global warming, each instance more offensive than the last.

But while Republican climate deniers move further from the realm of evidence and reason, more serious voices are confronting reality in a more responsible, albeit reactive, fashion.

A presidential task force charged with developing a strategy for rebuilding areas damaged by Superstorm Sandy has issued a report recommending 69 policy initiatives, most focused on a simple warning: Plan for future storms in an age of climate change and rising sea levels.

The report released Monday by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force says coastal communities should assume floods are going to happen more frequently and realize that spending more now on protective measures could save money later. It calls for development of a more advanced electrical grid less likely to be crippled in a crisis, and the creation of better planning tools and standards for communities rebuilding storm-damaged areas.

Task force members were not asked to come up with recommendations on how to combat climate change. Rather, as the AP report noted, this exercise was about coming with recommendations on how to deal with the intensifying threat, specifically by asking architects and engineers to explore ways to address vulnerabilities in coastal areas.

The report, called “Rebuild by Design,” explained, “Decision makers at all levels must recognize that climate change and the resulting increase in risks from extreme weather have eliminated the option of simply building back to outdated standards and expecting better outcomes after the next extreme event.”

It’s against this backdrop that scientists from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported today that “with near certainty … human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.”

Did I mention that the Republican vice chair of the House Science Committee told the public that global warming is a “fraud” cooked up by liberals who want one-world government?

Dave Roberts, meanwhile, had a fascinating item last week considering whether the conservative Republican ideology is simply unable to “accommodate the real facts on global warming.” I fear he’s right, though I hope, for everyone’s sake, he’s not.