Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come

Blog Post Written by Emily V., 
Hunter College, New York

Star Tribune, Steve Sack, December 3, 2015

I recently read Elizabeth Kolbert's Commentary in the New Yorker entitled, Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come - about climate change. The comments of President Trump and of various regional representatives  are something I want to closely examine here.
After the damage of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, there was much agitation in the press and in scientific circles.  In obeisance to this agitation, action was taken by the subsequent presidential administration that was an attempt to both diminish this country’s impact on the global weather system, and also to prepare for what may be the new norm, i.e. monster storms.

However, in the current administration, President Trump has made clear his understanding of climate change; he has said it is an “expensive hoax”, and with an indirect speech act, he announced in June that “the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

Image from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, appeared in Business Insider June 2, 2017

Scientists are still extolling the detrimental nature of warmer oceans and their influence on these storms. And accordingly, the financial costs are also extremely high.
In The New Yorker article, President Trump is quoted as saying during his visit to assess the damage from Harvey that he wanted “a recovery effort ‘better than ever before’”. What do you think about his declaration here; is this a speech act?
As the storm was still in progress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly told Congress he was “planning to eliminate his department’s special envoy for climate change”.  Is this also a speech act, and what else does this tell you about his position, and his connection to the President’s agenda?

Finally, in examining the tweet of Long Island Republican Representative Peter King, when asked about financial support for Texas, he tweeted “I’ll vote 4 Harvey aid”. What do you think about the platform and the informality of this message, and is this a speech act as well? There are members of my family who are, as I type this on Saturday, September 16, attending a fundraiser for Mr. King in Nassau County. Would you think this tweet about aid for Hurricane Harvey might be something used as a fundraising tool? (I plan to ask them if this was mentioned.)

And late breaking news: this was just tweeted from the Wall Street Journal under an hour ago:

Trump administration won't pull out of Paris accord, offers to re-engage in climate deal, EU official says

We have been reading about cognitive dissonance.  What clear examples do you see of that above?

Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come: In the lead to the historic flood, Texas Republicans abetted Trum's climate-change delusions.   Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, Sept. 11 2017

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