Chris Cuomo and Kellyanne Conway were in the midst of discussing Hurricane Harvey when she was triggered by what should have been an innocuous question.
“What happened in Harvey, and why it’s happening, and why these storms happen, open up a discussion about the role of climate change. Is the president, is the administration, open to that conversation?” Cuomo asked.
Conway responded with indignation: “Chris, we’re trying to help the people whose lives are literally underwater, and you want to have a conversation about climate change? I mean, that is — I’m not going to engage in that right now.”
Her concern for the victims is admirable, but her sense of outrage is not. This disaster shows more than ever that America needs leadership on climate change. It needs that conversation. And it can have it, while still taking care of those impacted by this terrible tragedy.
Once we get out of triage mode, the next step is ensuring that, going forward, we see as few disasters like this as possible, and that when America does get hit, we are ready. Of course, human beings cannot exercise complete control over nature, but we do have a significant impact. Scientists have been clear that climate change has made not just this storm, but other events we once saw as purely natural disasters, a whole lot worse.
That means building smarter by taking into account the impacts of climate change. That means fostering the already booming renewable energy industry. That means transitioning away from fossil fuels in an economically sustainable manner that doesn’t leave hardworking Americans out in the cold. This administration says they’re committed to making America great, and that is what a great America looks like: economically strong, on the cutting edge of technology, and ready to tackle the greatest challenges facing the nation and the world.
That is the response Americans deserve from a sensible government. Instead, America has gotten an administration that ignores science and repeatedly and aggressively attacks policies designed to limit greenhouse gas pollution. So America will have to have this conversation on its own, at the state, local, and individual level, until it can elect a President who’s willing to join in.