Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bush has declared 422 major disasters

New York Times: During his seven and a half years in office, President Bush has declared 422 major disasters — severe storms, tornadoes, wildfires and floods — or more than one a week. That is 11 percent more than President Bill Clinton’s disaster declarations and 130 percent more than President Ronald Reagan during their full two terms in office.

All those natural disasters translate into more federal government spending. Under Mr. Bush, the government has committed to spend $87 billion in disaster relief money to help states and localities clean up after floods, fires and storms, compared with Mr. Clinton’s nearly $29 billion. Even after adjusting for inflation, the Bush administration has spent 2.5 times more than the Clinton administration on disaster relief.

…One explanation, though highly contentious, for why the country has been more disaster prone under Mr. Bush is global warming. Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases are heating up the earth’s atmosphere but most generally agree that no single weather-related disaster can be attributed to climate change with certainty.

While most experts say they cannot correlate the rise in the number of disaster declarations with global warming, they accept that the trend will continue, and that that means a growing cache of federal tax dollars will need to be diverted to help states cope. Others offer alternative explanations, including that Mr. Bush’s disaster relief decisions have been politically motivated, either to help Republican governors or to shield him from the kind of criticism he received for his handling of Hurricane Katrina.

….“The general sense is that you can’t peg any particular weather event to climate change, but everything we’re seeing is consistent with what the models predict,” said Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund. Mr. Kreindler said he had no doubt that there would be a correlation between increased federal spending on weather-related emergencies and climate change in the future…..

Dorothea Lange shot this picture of a destitute man in front of a vacant store, Wikimedia Commons

1 comment:

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