Will Congress Support the President’s Climate Resilience Fund? Slim and None with Slim being a Distant Second

There is no chance that this package, the Climate Resilience Fund, will pass Congress. As such, the President is not being serious with the Fund proposal. Federal government spending on climate change related matters has grown rapidly under the Obama administration and now totals more than $20 billion. Almost all of it is misguided. If the President believes that more funds should be allocated to infrastructure resilience and better preparation, then reallocation of existing funding is the proper route.

This is another case of basing decisions and resource allocations on illusions. There is absolutely no compelling evidence that extreme weather events are increasing. As recently as January, Professor Judith Curry of Georgia Tech testified before a Senate Committee, saying “most types of weather extremes were worse in the 1930’s and even in the 1950’s than in the current climate, while the weather was overall more benign in the 1970’s. This sense that extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense is symptomatic of ‘weather amnesia’ prior to 1970. The extremes of the 1930’s and 1950’s are not attributable to greenhouse warming and are associated with natural climate variability (and in the case of the dustbowl drought and heat waves, also to land use practices).”

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s own historical analysis of Atlantic hurricane activity clearly shows that hurricane landfalls were more frequent in the past, with the late 1800s having among the most numerous hurricanes. Further, there is clear scientific evidence that hurricanes follow a 60-year cycle, with 30 years of above average activity and 30 years of below average. Claims that tornado activity is increasing because of climate change are also belied by data. Professor Roger Pielke in a paper on tornado damage wrote, “on climate time scales there is no indication of increasing incidence of tornadoes.” He also pointed out that “the most recent review by the IPCC found no basis for claiming an increase (or decrease) in tornado incidence or intensity (IPCC 2012).”

The President recently went to California, which is experiencing a severe drought, to press his climate agenda even though California has experienced severe droughts for well over 100 years. The seriousness of this drought has been attributed to the state’s water management practices and not an abrupt change in climate.

Public events such as the California trip may be useful in energizing the President’s base but do little to educate and inform. His continued misleading of the public only further erodes confidence in our government.

Misguided efforts to pursue emission mitigation divert scarce resources from research to better understand our climate system and to being better prepared to deal with climate events. This latter point was made clear in Professor Curry’s concluding testimony statement, “… vulnerability to extreme weather events will continue owing to increasing population and wealth in vulnerable regions. Climate change (regardless of whether the primary cause is natural or anthropogenic) may be less important in driving vulnerability in most regions than increasing population, land use practices, and ecosystem degradation. Regions that find solutions to current problems of climate variability and extreme weather events and address challenges associated with an increasing population are likely to be well prepared to cope with any additional stresses from the climate change.”

 

This article appeared on the National Journal Energy Insiders weblog at http://www.nationaljournal.com/policy/insiders/energy/will-congress-support-the-president-s-climate-resilience-fund-20140310

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