GOP lawmakers offer prayers for hurricane victims — but still no action on climate change

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GOP lawmakers continue to fight against climate legislation as extreme weather events grow more frequent.

As Hurricane Ida hit Gulf Coast states over the weekend, Republican lawmakers tweeted out their prayers for the impacted communities. But they continue to ignore the climate change crisis that scientists say is making this and other storms worse.

Ida hit Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane. By Monday, more than 1 million people had lost power, levees had failed, and multiple buildings had collapsed.

"As Hurricane #Ida comes ashore, Gayle and I are praying for the safety of everyone in harm’s way," wrote Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who claimed in January 2015, "[I]t has not been compellingly proven that mankind is responsible for the rise in atmospheric CO2 nor is it clear what impact CO2 has on Earth's temperatures."

"Follow @FLSERT, @NWSTallahassee & @NWSMobile & pray for Mississippi, Louisiana & all in Ida's devastating path," urged Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who refused to say whether climate change was real in May 2014, with an "I'm not a scientist" excuse.

"Please be in prayer for Louisiana as Ida is expected to be a Cat 4 storm at landfall," requested Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), who wrote in June 2017 that "evidence shows that cycles of climate change have always been a part of the earth's history."

While they and several colleagues offered prayers, none mentioned that a warming global climate is making storms more severe and dangerous.

Scientists told the Washington Post on Sunday that the connection between climate change and storms is clear.

"People there are going to get blasted," Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric science professor Kerry Emanuel told the paper. "This is exactly the kind of thing we're going to have to get used to as the planet warms."

Temperatures of Gulf of Mexico waters more than 3 degrees hotter than the average in the 1990s contributed to Ida's strength. Brian Tang, an atmospheric scientist at the University at Albany, told the Post that as the storm neared the coast the warm temperatures were "really like stepping on the accelerator. Flooring it, basically."

"It's hard to say for any one thing, 'Yes, for sure this is climate change,'" Mississippi State University atmospheric scientist Kimberly Wood said. "But the warmer waters and the amount of moisture in the air, this in general is going to increase as the climate warms."

Democratic Rep. Marie Newman of Illinois shared a USA Today story on Monday about Ida being tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane in the history of the U.S. mainland. "We cannot condemn our children to a future where life-threatening natural disasters are a regular occurrence. This is preventable. We need climate action and we need it NOW," she wrote.

But Republicans have long ignored scientific consensus to cast doubt on human causes of climate change and the role of warming temperatures in increasingly extreme weather.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said in 2012 that people could not do anything to impact either. "[M]y point is, God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous."

On Thursday, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) blamed troubles in Afghanistan on the fact that President Joe Biden and his National Security Council have vaccinated troops, taught soldiers about systemic racism, and "combated 'climate change.'"

Earlier in August, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) blasted 19 senators from his own party for backing a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal that includes funds for clean electricity infrastructure. He wrote that they "voted to spend $1.2 trillion to continue RE-making America to be woke, broke, federally run, & beholden to climate doomsday at expense of human flourishing," calling the programs "leftist garbage."

Polls show that package, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is wildly popular. But a majority of Senate Republicans voted against it after former President Donald Trump warned of primaries for GOP lawmakers who give a "a big and beautiful win on Infrastructure" to Democrats.

And every single Republican in the House and Senate has opposed a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan to enact the rest of Biden's Build Back Better agenda, which would invest billions more in clean energy jobs and climate change infrastructure.

"The leftist climate proposal forces middle-class Americans to foot the bill for an agenda they do not want," wrote Sen. Marsha Blackburn on Aug. 12, ignoring the fact that the plan does not raise taxes for anyone making under $400,000 annually.

"Joe and the Socialists say electric vehicles & climate change are 'infrastructure'!" complained Texas Rep. Beth Van Duyne on July 23 in a fundraising tweet. "Help me stop their unfocused, wasteful, and insane spending spree!"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.