In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which has ravaged southeast Texas and caused massive flooding, critics are rightly focused on Trump’s preoccupation with dismantling former President Barack Obama’s legacy and its impact on Texans as they deal with what the National Weather Service calls an “unprecedented” storm.
On the heels of Hurricane Sandy, one of the deadliest and costliest storms in United States history, Obama signed Executive Order 13653 in 2013, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change. This order comprised the federal government’s response to the rising effects of climate change and “leverages lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms, as well as future climate projections, to develop feasible, cost-effective strategies to reduce and manage extreme weather vulnerabilities amid the uncertainties of a changing climate.”
Obama also diligently signed Executive Order 13690 on January 30, 2015, which “required that federally funded projects hew to a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, to reduce the risk of future flood damage. Specifically, the order required that floodplains had to be based on the ‘best-available, actionable hydrologic and hydraulic data and methods that integrate current and future changes in flooding based on climate science.’”
However, in his obsession with revoking any and all Obama-era laws, Trump rescinded Executive Order 13653 in March. And he rescinded EO 13690 just two weeks ago.
While Hurricane Harvey has left Texas decimated, we have accurate “climate intelligence” and forecasting models to thank for warning Texans of the impending danger. Trump, however, whether pandering to the fossil fuel industry or displaying the full effects of his ignorance, has proposed budget cuts that would cripple these systems.
It seeks to cut 26 percent from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, which supports data collection, climate and science, as well as research into more accurate weather forecasting models. The budget blueprint also would cut $513 million from NOAA’s satellite division, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, a 22 percent reduction.
Such cuts would cripple NOAA’s ability to keep afloat its satellites and data-gathering activities. That would not only affect the military but any business that relies on data and governments that have to plan how to handle snowstorms and hurricanes.
While our current President pitifully attempts to erase his predecessor from the history books, he is wittingly putting American lives at risk. That being said, those have never been his priority.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.