At the same time all eyes are on the flood victims in Texas, some astounding and deeply upsetting proposals are floating around Washington that directly contradict what is being said to these shivering wet people.
Remember how the president praised the work of FEMA on television recently? Page 24 of his budget proposal cuts $667 million (about 10 percent) from the FEMA budget. The money is re-directed to the defense budget, or tax cuts for the wealthy.
Remember the television shots of how big the hurricane looked as it turned toward Texas? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration took them. NOAA faces a Trump proposed budget cut of 17 percent. The money is re-directed to the defense budget, or tax cuts for the wealthy.
Remember the forecasts about how much rain might fall? A new and improved forecasting tool is ready to launch – but that effort was gutted. The money is re-directed to the defense budget, or tax cuts for the wealthy.
In the past month, while 37 people died due to Hurricane Harvey, the same kind of increased flooding happened in India, where more than 1,000 people died. And in Bangladesh, where 70,000 houses were submerged, and 140 people drowned. In May, half a million residents were flooded out of homes and 224 people died in Sri Lanka.
Such flooding has never been seen before.
Here is the big picture about flooding: Globally, ocean temperature has risen 1.5 degrees since 1960. Warmer oceans evaporate more water, and that becomes rain.
America is the world’s largest leaker of methane, a climate-changing gas 86 times worse than CO2. Last month, Scott Pruitt, Trump’s appointment to head the EPA, postponed implementing a regulation requiring oil and gas companies to fix methane leaks – on the grounds that it hurt industry.
The American voter is being sold a false definition of safety by people who talk about the vision of a safer America through stronger armed forces. While we need to be protected from outside attack, it is not armed conflict that is the largest threat to our families – it is environmental contamination and climate change.
For the average family of four, the weekly cost of our defense spending is $146. To defend our families against air, water, and chemical pollution that same family of four pays $2 a week for the EPA.
Forty five percent of U.S. streams, 47 percent of lakes, 32 percent of bays and 40 percent of America’s rivers are too polluted for fishing, swimming or aquatic life. One of many kinds of pollution that exists in water affects estrogen. Young girls are transitioning to womanhood one year younger than they did in 1991.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that over a million life years are lost annually in the United States from air pollution alone. The Trump budget cuts the CDC’s budget 17 percent.
Efforts that cost pennies a week to protect families are being undermined by politicians wrapping themselves in the American flag, praising rescuers, and promising federal assistance to flood victims, all the while helping the polluters and quietly blocking the ability to prevent future disaster.
Viewed through a moral lens, politicians who are protecting industry over families should be ashamed.
We have two disasters going on: One is flooding, and the other is political hypocrisy.
Koster, of Kannapolis, runs a not-for-profit called The Pollution Detectives that loans pollution detection equipment to students and concerned citizens.