President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security adviser refused Monday to draw a direct comparison between man-made global warming and the hurricanes pummeling the southern part of the U.S.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about whether climate change is related to hurricanes Harvey or Irma, Tom Bossert told CNN’s Jim Acosta at a press conference. He also suggested that the Trump administration is considering future policies to reduce building in flood plains.
“I think what’s prudent for us right now is to make sure those response capabilities are there. Causality is something outside my ability to analyze right now,” Bossert said.
He also appeared to etch out the possibility that natural variability has played a part in the intensity of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Climate skeptics routinely claim that much of what scientists call man-made global warming is simply the cyclical nature of the Earth.
“I do note that there’s a cyclical nature to a lot of these hurricane seasons,” he explained, noting that the 2004 hurricane season was the costliest seasons in American history. “We’ll have to do a larger trend analysis at a later date.”
Warmer water and air temperatures, as well as extremely low air pressure systems, can produce the energy needed for any storm to become a massive hurricane in the Atlantic. Without that dynamic, hurricanes would be nothing more than large storms. Scientists have urged caution about drawing any kind of conclusions from the processes at work.
Many of them are asking media talking heads and journalists to avoid making any direct links between global warming and the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, along with other natural disasters. They argue that the data is not clear on the issue.
The administration is hashing out plans to write a new federal flood standard for various infrastructural projects that would replace those from former President Barack Obama, according to Bossert. Trump rescinded his Democratic predecessor’s flood standards earlier this year.
“What President Trump remains committed to is making sure that federal dollars aren’t used to rebuild things that would be in harm’s way later or that won’t be hardened against the future predictable floods that we see,” Bossert said.
He noted that the administration intends on conducting an analysis determining the degree to which erosion plays a part in damage from hurricanes.
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