President Obama was in New Orleans on Thursday to mark the tenth anniversary of
Hurricane Katrina, but he did not heed Gov. Bobby Jindal’s warnings to avoid the topic of climate change. Since the devastation that occurred on August 29th 2005, the city has undergone massive reconstruction, however, the threat of climate change induced extreme weather persists. Katrina was the costliest and most damaging storm in recorded history. The category 5 hurricane caused between $108 and $250 billion in damages and killed as many as 2000 people. In the city of New Orleans alone, the hurricane costs the city $6.6 billion and killed over 150 people.
New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico and vast swaths of our planet are at increased risk from extreme weather exacerbated by climate change. The science indicates that extreme weather is already here and destined to get far worse.
Climate models predict that hurricanes are strengthened by warmer temperatures. So it is only a matter of time before New Orleans gets hit again. As Joe Romm points out the only reason it has not happened yet is because the city has gotten lucky.
Before the President went to Louisiana Jindal sent a letter to Obama urging him not to bring up the subject of climate change during his trip to the state. As a Republican Presidential candidate climate denial is de rigueur.
As Jindal explains in his letter, “the temptation to stray into climate change politics should be resisted…While you and others may be of the opinion that we can legislate away hurricanes with higher taxes, business regulations and EPA power grabs, that is not a view shared by many Louisianians. I would ask you to respect this important time of remembrance by not inserting the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism.” The governor goes on to lecture the President telling him that, “Partisan politics from Washington, D.C. are unwelcome in Louisiana at the best of times. This week it would be met with nothing but derision.”
Unsurprisingly, Obama who is currently on a climate tour around the country did not take Jindal’s advice. Unlike Jindal and the field of Republicans vying for the GOP nomination, the President is an advocate for renewable energy and other global efforts to combat climate change. During his speech in New Orleans, Obama talked about building resilience against climate change.
“We are going to see more extreme weather events as a result of climate change — deeper droughts, deadlier wildfires, stronger storms,” Obama said.
It would appear that the city of New Orleans shares Obama’s concerns. New Orleans along with 100 other cities recently released urban climate resilience plans.While such adaptation to climate change is necessary we must not forget about all important mitigation efforts.
As explained by President Obama, “We can build great levees. We can restore wetlands. But ultimately, what we also have to do is make sure that we don’t continue to see ocean levels rise, oceans getting warmer, storms getting stronger.”
The only way to do that is to dramatically slash the GHG emissions that cause climate change.