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Obama declares record-breaking 89 disasters for 2011 ALONE

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Author Topic: Obama declares record-breaking 89 disasters for 2011 ALONE  (Read 1362 times)
« on: October 31, 2011, 01:58:29 pm »

Obama declares record-breaking 89 disasters for 2011 ALONE

Some say declarations of disaster are politically motivated

U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a record-breaking 89 disasters for the first 10 months of 2011 alone. It's been a disaster-packed year, with Hurricane Irene drenching the East Coast to tornados that have wreaked havoc from Wisconsin to Texas. According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2011 has seen more billion dollar disasters than any year on record. Some say that Obama's record-setting year may have something to do with politics as well.
It's been a disaster-packed year, with Hurricane Irene drenching the East Coast to tornados that have wreaked havoc from Wisconsin to Texas. However -- many feel the president's over willingness to declare disasters is politically motivated.

It's been a disaster-packed year, with Hurricane Irene drenching the East Coast to tornados that have wreaked havoc from Wisconsin to Texas. However -- many feel the president's over willingness to declare disasters is politically motivated.

 The president has declared more disasters, a substantial 229, in the first three years of his presidency than almost any other president signed in their full four-year terms. Only President George W. Bush declared has declared more disasters, signing 238 disaster declarations in his second term, from 2005 to 2009.

"There's no question about it that the increase in the number of disaster declarations is outstripping what we would expect to see, given what we observe in terms of weather," Robert Hartwig, the president and economist at the Insurance Information Institute says. "There's a lot of political pressure on the president and Congress to show they are responsive to these sorts of disasters that occur."

The readiness to order federal aid for disaster-stricken areas has touched off partisan battles on how to foot the bill. When Republicans demanded additional appropriations for a cash-strapped FEMA be offset by spending cuts, the government was almost stilled over disaster relief funding.

In addition, a similarly slow response to natural disasters by the president has been met with deeper criticism. Many feel that former President Bush lost considerable credence due to his botched initial response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"Ever since that time we've seen FEMA try to act more responsively and we've seen presidents more engaged in the issues going on with respect to disasters," Hartwig says.

Mark Merritt, the deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton Administration says that Obama's record-breaking number of declarations has less to do with politics -- and more to do with demographics.

People are moving to high-risk areas like beaches and flood plains and more bad weather events are occurring and the country's infrastructure is "crumbling," Merritt says.

"It's not being used any more as a political tool today than it has over the past 18 years," Merritt says, who is now the president of the crisis management consulting firm Witt Associates. "Everybody can say there's a little bit of politics involved, and I won't deny that, but I don't think it's a political tool that politicians use to win reelections."
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2011, 02:57:49 pm »

maybe America should leave Israel alone.
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2011, 03:28:39 pm »

maybe America should leave Israel alone.

^^ That.
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 09:18:16 pm »

Soooooo-- it must be GLOBAL WARMING's fault for the economic disasters that are coming! (Right.)

Amid Climate Change Inaction in Washington, Activist Urges Americans To 'Do The Math'


Bill McKibben launches a "Do the Math" climate tour.McKibben isn't holding his breath. Instead, he plans to descend on Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom Friday night -- and on venues across the country over the next two weeks -- armed with three simple numbers that he believes will spur a global divestment campaign not unlike that which ultimately helped bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa.

In this case the target is not a racist political system, but peddlers of fossil fuels, and McKibben's magic numbers are 2, 565 and 2,795.

The number 2 stands for 2 degrees Celsius. This is the somewhat arbitrary number that, by dint of repetition since the mid-1990s and, perhaps, humanity's dislike of ambiguity, has become the upper threshold for what is considered tolerable planetary warming. Allowing average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (roughly 3.6 degrees, for Fahrenheit holdouts in the U.S. and Belize) could well be a tipping point beyond which the planet's natural climate system, overloaded with human-produced greenhouse gases, goes permanently out of whack.

The curious can visit the National Snow and Ice Data Center to learn more about how that systemic breakdown might come about -- and it's worth noting that many scientists think a full 2 degree uptick in average global temperatures could be disastrous all on its own.

Two other key points: We're almost halfway there already, and it seems quite likely, given the greenhouse gases already built up in the atmosphere and the lack of coordinated action to curb that pollution, that we're hurtling headlong toward a 2 degree increase and perhaps well beyond.

That brings us to the two remaining numbers that McKibben wants to highlight: 565 and 2,795. The former is the upper limit, in gigatons, of carbon dioxide that many scientists believe humanity can still dump into the atmosphere to avoid the 2 degree uptick described above. The latter is the estimated amount, also in gigatons, of carbon dioxide embedded in the world's proven coal, oil and gas reserves. If we pull all of that out of the earth and burn it, McKibben suggests, the math doesn't add up very well for life on planet Earth.

If that arithmetic proves moving to enough people, McKibben reckons, it might be possible to focus their dismay at the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies and, in turn, diminish the industry's influence over leadership in Washington. "If we can show people that fossil fuels are to the planet's safety what the tobacco industry is to our individual health," McKibben said, "we may be able to loosen their grip on policy-making."

Central to that effort, McKibben says: Urging colleges and universities to divorce their endowments from fossil fuel stocks, much as those institutions were encouraged to divest from companies that did work in apartheid-era South

That earlier effort took decades to reach critical mass, of course, but by the late 1980s, dozens of colleges and universities had taken a stand, and it made a difference.

Last week, one day before President Obama was reelected, Unity College of Maine became the first college to announce plans to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. Whether the move will go unnoticed or will mark the start of a larger trend remains to be seen, but it does seem that frustration with Washington is mounting, and that the math is starting to sink in.

"We are running out of time," said Unity College president Stephen Mulkey in a statement explaining the decision last week. "While our public policy makers equivocate and avoid the topic of climate change, the window of opportunity for salvaging a livable planet for our children and grandchildren is rapidly closing.

"While there is much uncertainty about how climate change will play out with respect to specific regions and weather patterns, one thing is very clear: Our current emissions trajectory will carry us beyond 5 degrees Celsius average global warming by 2100," Mulkey added. "This will be a planet that is not consistent with our civilization, and science shows us that the impact will be largely irreversible for a millennium. I don't know how the stakes could get any higher."
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