A former member of the Clinton administration, and current Senior Fellow at the virtual Clinton think tank the Center for American Progress, claimed Monday that global warming might have played a factor in the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis last week.
I kid you not.
Writing at Climate Progress, the global warming blog of CAP, Joseph Romm - who served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1997 and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 1995 though 1998 - stated in a piece amazingly entitled "Did Climate Change Contribute To The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse?" (emphasis added throughout):
I was skeptical at first, but after doing a Google search - and after NBC reported Sunday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators are "looking at everything" including "the weather" - I think it is a legitimate question to ask.
Keep your seatbelts fastened, for it got better:
Melissa Hortman of the Minnesota House of Representatives "speculated that 90-plus-degree heat Wednesday and the above-normal temperatures of the past two summers may have been a contributing factor," and said "You wonder if this bridge was built to withstand the massive heat we have had this summer." Or even if it was built to withstand heat, whether its structural deficiencies undermined the design integrity to a point where heat contributed to the collapse.
Some may object to even asking the question, "Did climate change contribute to the Minneapolis bridge collapse?" My guess is those are the same people who deny that global warming is caused by humans or that it is a serious problem - the same people who inevitably say "we can adapt to whatever climate change there is."
But, in my experience, those "adapters" are actually not interested in finding out what the impacts of global warming are. The Bush administration has blocked research into the impact of climate change on this country and muzzled climate scientists from discussing key climate impact issues, such as the connection between global warming and the recent increase in intense Atlantic hurricanes - which is obviously a central adaptation issue.
By the way, for those that have forgotten, CAP is the group headed by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta which in June outlined a Democrat assault on conservative talk radio. But I digress:
Those who argue against strong action today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - the adapters who are essentially saying to climate change, "Bring it on!" - cannot criticize those who then ask the obvious adaptation question - how will climate change impact this country and its infrastructure?
Certainly climate change will have the biggest infrastructure impact on our coastal cities, water and sewage systems, levees, and electric grid. But given that a remarkable 70,000 other bridges in the country are also structurally deficient, we should seek to learn whether such troubled bridges can take the ever-growing stresses generated by global warming. We need to be as prepared as possible for a changed climate - as the Center for American Progress has previously argued. Indeed, if the adapters have their way in blocking serious efforts aimed at prevention, we'll need to be prepared for the very worst.