EPA chief and other leaders burying their heads in the sand, now that’s ‘insensitive’ to hurricane victims: Our view

This is no time to discuss climate change and deadly hurricanes, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt argued to CNN last week. Such a conversation would be “insensitive” to hurricane victims, he explained.

Actually, this is precisely the time to have that discussion.

In the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Americans hunger to know whether global warming — something they once regarded as a distant threat involving polar bears and melting glaciers — is a here-and-now part of their daily lives.

OPPOSING VIEW: Don’t exploit hurricanes

Irma  became the second Atlantic Category 4 hurricane to strike the U.S. in a single season, the first time in 166 years of weather records. As South Florida braced for the storm, the Republican mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado, said there was no better occasion to understand the threat global warming poses to the region’s future. Pope Francis heralded the twin storms as warnings to mankind. 

The reality is that there is almost certainly a connection between a warming planet and the growing severity of storms. The only question is to what degree. Climate change doesn’t create hurricanes, but scientists largely agree it makes them worse. Sea levels are rising, and this increases storm-related flood damage in coastal cities such as Miami, Jacksonville and Charleston.

Harvey dropped more than 4 feet of water onto part of southeastern Texas, record rain from a storm over the continental United States, damaging or destroying 100,000 homes in Texas and Louisiana.

Irma spun so powerfully into the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands as a Category 5 that it sustained 185-mph winds for 37 hours, longer than ever recorded worldwide.

AccuWeather founder Joel Myers estimates the storms will cost the U.S. $290 billion

And while the nation is transfixed by the hurricanes, more than 100 wildfires burn across the Northwest, consuming 2 millions acres of forests and grasslands, and threatening to make 2017 the worst ever wildfire season. Scientists see warming temperatures across the West as a contributing factor.

It’s small wonder that Americans might look to leadership to connect whatever dots exist between global warming and intensifying natural disasters. But they’re met with the moral equivalent…