NY Times' Burns Cites 'Terrifying Weather' as Sign of 'Urgent Threat' of Climate Change

The damage from Hurricane Irma may have been less than feared, but the New York Times won’t give up using it as a cynical prod to enact costly legislation and regulation in the name of fighting “climate change” while portraying Republicans as stubborn fools for standing in the way and who will hopefully get swamped by a surging floodtide of public opinion (a prediction the media keeps making, in vain).

Alexander Burns reported in Friday’s New York Times, “As Severe Storms Shift Climate Debate, G.O.P. Leaders Remain Unbent." The text box: "Movement among moderates and lawmakers in areas vulnerable to floods.” The slanted story was accompanied by a picture of a sad sailboat parked by the road in Georgia after being picked up by floodwaters. Burns gets ahead of the science, especially when he claims "Despite consensus among scientists, not everyone is convinced that terrifying weather means climate change is an urgent threat":

For years, climate change activists have faced a wrenching dilemma: how to persuade people to care about a grave but seemingly far-off problem and win their support for policies that might pinch them immediately in utility bills and at the pump.

But that calculus may be changing at a time when climatic chaos feels like a daily event rather than an airy abstraction, and storms powered by warming ocean waters wreak havoc on the mainland United States. Americans have spent weeks riveted by television footage of wrecked neighborhoods, displaced families, flattened Caribbean islands and submerged cities from Houston to Jacksonville.

“The conversation is shifting,” said Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii. “Because even if you don’t believe liberals, even if you don’t believe scientists, you can believe your own eyes.”

Despite consensus among scientists, not everyone is convinced that terrifying weather means climate change is an urgent threat. There is virtually no prospect of large-scale federal action on the issue in the near future....

But an array of political leaders -- including some members of Mr. Trump’s party, along with emboldened Democrats and environmental activists -- see the underlying dynamics of climate politics bending, as drastic weather events throw up practical challenges for red and blue states alike....


Most movement among Republicans has come from moderates and lawmakers from areas vulnerable to flooding, where seeming oblivious to extreme weather could be politically risky. There have been no notable cracks in Republican opposition to climate policy among party leaders, or even within the powerful Texas congressional delegation -- a group battered by Hurricane Harvey but fiercely protective of the state’s oil economy.


But in Florida, where Irma left more than a dozen dead and millions without electricity, a handful of Republicans have been more outspoken. The Republican mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado, urged Mr. Trump last week to reconsider his climate policies. Several Florida lawmakers founded a bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives, and the group’s Republican membership grew this year to two dozen.

The safe ground for Republicans, party strategists say, may be embracing proposals to mitigate certain effects of environmental change, while skirting debate about more drastic actions that experts see as essential.

Those would be the same “experts” that didn’t forecast the 16-year pause in global warming:

Still, the trend toward taking climate change seriously has been unmistakable, and pollsters say it may intensify after a season of superstorms. In a Gallup poll this year, 45 percent of Americans said they worried about global warming a “great deal,” a sharp increase from the share in 2016 and the highest ever recorded in the poll. About six in 10 said they believed the consequences of global warming are already being felt.


Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster who has studied climate as a campaign issue, said that it was most relevant to voters as a “reference point” to judge a candidate’s worldview, and that voters tended to see those who reject climate science as extremists. Mr. Garin said catastrophic weather could make certain hard-line views less acceptable.

Burns let powerful liberal environmental donor Tom Steyer (who makes a habit of this) plot revenge against dissenting Republicans.

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But some Democratic candidates and political donors hope to punish conservative politicians before then. In Florida, Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat seeking re-election next year, quickly went on the offensive this week, accusing one potential Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, of having ignored the mounting threat of climate change.

And advisers to Tom Steyer, a billionaire investor who has spent millions supporting Democrats, said his political committee might seek to link Republicans in Florida, Nevada and California to environmental catastrophes in those states, like the summer hurricanes and wildfires out west.

Mr. Steyer said in an interview that acknowledging the impact of devastating storms should not get Republicans off the hook for opposing efforts to address global warming over all....

Global Warming Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats New York Times Alexander Burns Tom Steyer
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