Email #279: “dangers are only increasing”

President Trump said on Saturday: “We’ve never seen anything like this,” describing Hurricane Irma as “a storm of enormous destructive power,” one following only a week after the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, and with Hurricane Jose following immediately in Irma’s wake.

Why are these hurricanes increasing in number and intensity?

Time magazine reported last week that the increase can be explained with one fact: “the air can hold 7% more water with every degree Celsius that the temperature rises.” As a result, the “high temperatures during Hurricane Harvey’s formation and along its path” are to blame “for the more than 50 inches of rain dropped on Houston,” a new record for rain from a storm on the continental U.S.  Looking to future storms, “scientists just need to convince the policymakers … the dangers are only increasing.”

Those policymakers include you and the climate-change deniers in the Trump administration. The President withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord over the summer, saying its effects would be negligible. But according to MIT researcher John Sterman, the Paris agreement would reduce the planet’s warming by roughly a full degree by the end of the century. That one degree would also significantly reduce the number and destructiveness of hurricanes hitting the U.S. coast.

You have repeatedly placed immediate economic needs ahead of long-term environmental concerns. The financial destruction caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma reveals the short-sightedness of that policy.

Oddly, the President is using Irma as a reason to speed along legislation—but not climate legislation. He said on Saturday: “I think now, with what’s happened with the hurricane, I’m gonna ask for a speed up. I wanted a speed up anyway, but now we need it even more so. So we need to simplify the tax code, reduce taxes very substantially on the middle class, and make our business tax more globally competitive. We’re the highest anywhere in the world right now.”

Do you agree with the President’s that the best way to respond to hurricanes is to change the tax code?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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