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The National Security Threat that Inflicted 400 Billion in Damages This Year

Back in the 1990s, the U.S. Navy asked Congress to address the issue of rising sea levels at the Norfolk Naval Base. The Navy wanted to raise the piers, which were becoming vulnerable to flooding due to rising waters. For various reasons, including climate change denial, Congress has delayed funding for elevating the base’s 12 piers beyond the present and near term projected reach of ongoing sea level rise. Only four so far have been lifted.

According to former Norfolk Naval Base Commander Joe Bouchard, “Washington went bonkers” when it failed to recognize and address an obvious problem — sea level rise.

Up and down the U.S. coastline, the story is much the same. But it’s not just a case of Navy Base piers. It’s a case that every coastal city in the U.S. now faces rising seas threatening homes, real estate, infrastructure. And at the same time that seas are rising, the strongest storms are growing stronger and fire seasons that once ran through a few months of the year in places like California are now a year-round affair.

(A ribbon-thin rise of land separates the Norfolk Naval Base from flooding due to climate change driven sea level rise. Flooded bases not a national security threat? See related article by Vox. Image source: Wikipedia.)

This is the very definition of climate change as a threat to the security, not just to the world’s largest naval base, but to most if not all of the United States.

So how bonkers is Donald Trump and the climate change denying GOP now? How nuts is it that Trump yesterday made the anti-factual determination, in bald defiance of a plethora of U.S. military leaders, that “climate change is not a national security threat?”

Increasingly Destructive Hurricanes are Putting a Growing Number of People and Structures at Risk

This year, the U.S. has experienced not one, not two, not three, not four, but at least five major weather disasters that were made much worse by human-caused climate change. Three of them — hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey all roared out of a warming ocean. They all formed in a hotter atmosphere loaded up with a higher level of moisture. These factors gave them more fuel to feed on. They unarguably increased their peak potential intensity. Scientific studies have found that Harvey alone was three times more likely to form due to human-caused climate change. That its rainfall was considerably enhanced in a warmer atmosphere.

The storms ran in to land on a higher ramp. Seas, like those at the Naval Base and in so many other places, have risen by a foot or more from the Gulf Coast to New England and on into the Caribbean because the Earth has, indeed, warmed. And this made storm surge impacts worse.

You could go on and on with the list of climate change related factors that compounded this year’s disasters. About the climate zones moving north. About hot blobs in the ocean and bigger blocks in the atmosphere. About enhanced convection and ice cliff instability. About ridiculously resilient ridges and persistent troughs. But it’s just a simple fact that the storms were worse than they would have been. That climate change made them more likely (in some cases far more likely) to occur in the first place. In total, and in large part due to the nefarious influence of fossil fuel burning on the world’s weather, these three storms alone have inflicted 368 billion dollars in damages.

That’s billion with a capital B. A level of harm often attributed to warfare but one that can instead be put at the feet of weather indiscriminately weaponized by fossil fuel burning. For the Atlantic Hurricane season this year, at a time when global temperatures are 1.1 to 1.2 C hotter than 1880s averages, was the most destructive ever recorded. These climate change enhanced storms left whole island nations and entire regions in ruins. In many cases it will take months, years, or even a decade or more to fully recover.

Wildfires are Increasing and Wildfire Season is Getting Longer in the Western U.S.

But in the grim tally of climate change related damages during 2017, we don’t stop at just hurricanes. For California, during 2017 experienced its worst fire season on record. One in which 11,306 structures have so far been damaged or destroyed. We say so far because what is likely to become the largest fire in California history — the Thomas Fire — is still burning.

11,306 structures would be enough to make a decent sized city. All gone due to a fire season that is now year round. Due to western heating, drying and temperature extremes that are increasingly forced to well outside the normal range. Total damages this year for California are presently estimated at more than 13 billion dollars. That’s nothing to shake a stick at. But this damage total is likely to continue to climb as the tally of losses is counted.

(Abnormally above average temperatures and below average precipitation contributed to fire danger in California during December. This odd heat and drought was driven, in no small part, by climate change. Image source: NOAA.)

As with hurricanes, the presently more intense fires are linked in numerous ways to a warming climate. Warmer temperatures increase the rate of evaporation and the intensity of precipitation in the most extreme events. Such variance increases the rate at which vegetation grows during wet season and the rate at which it dries during times when the rains depart. This adds more ready fuels for fires. In addition, northward movement of the Arctic sea ice contributes to an overall warmer and drier pattern for the U.S. West. This pattern, helps to produce stronger high pressure systems that, in turn, strengthen the fire-fanning Santa Ana winds.

This year, December, which is typically a wet month for the U.S. West, especially during La Nina (which we are presently experiencing) has been incredibly dry. This dryness helped to fuel the Thomas Fire. But the dryness didn’t happen in a vacuum. It was associated with a major climate change related influx of heat into the Arctic linked to climate change driven polar amplification.

Failure to Recognize Climate Change Leaves U.S. Citizens Vulnerable to Harm

Anyone following the increasingly clear evidence of how Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia to disrupt the 2016 elections and how ardently Trump is attempting to cover the whole thing up could draw the reasonable conclusion that Trump cares more about his own personal advancement than the safety and security of the American people. Trump’s, and by extension, the GOP’s climate change denial, can be seen through the same morally relativistic lens. Wealthy fossil fuel donors have for a long time now held an unreasonable influence over persons in higher office. The denial of climate change for both the Republican Congress and the Presidency is, in other words, well-funded.

(GOP funding by fossil fuel donors just keeps going up and up in lockstep with GOP climate change denial and anti-environmental policy. Image source: InsideClimate News.)

Such denial may line the pocketbooks of republican politicians and wealthy oil, gas, and ailing coal companies. But it places the American people, their homes, their livelihoods, beneath the blade of a falling ax. So when Trump says climate change is a hoax, forces government websites to shut down, scrubs words related to climate change from government communications, opposes alternative clean energy, and tells the Department of Defense not to treat climate change as a national security threat, he is culpable and a contributor to a very clear, present, and growing danger.

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Mitt Romney — If You Care About Americans, Then Why Are You Still Profiting From Shipping Jobs to China?

Remember all the hullabaloo earlier this year over the company Mitt Romney founded — Bain Capital? Remember all the news reports, blogs, and personal testimonials about people who lost their jobs after Bain bought out companies, drove them to bankruptcy by taking out debt and paying themselves via checks, and then shipped jobs overseas to places like China where workers were forced to work for less than a dollar an hour in sweat-shop conditions? Remember how Bain was exposed for pioneering the model for sending the jobs of US workers to places like China and profiting from it? Remember how many other companies in the US then duplicated this model, in essence, creating a massive industry entirely dedicated to devastating America’s middle class jobs?

Well, it’s still happening. Bain is still shipping US jobs to China and Romney is still making money from Bain’s actions. Money that will likely end up in Romney’s foreign tax shelter so he can avoid contributing to the very US government whose helm he is now exerting every effort to attain.

In Freeport Illinois today, over 170 employees of Sensata Technologies are now at imminent risk of losing their jobs. The reason? Bain capital recently gained a controlling stake in Sensata and is now planning to outsource the 170 middle class jobs at Sensata to China. Workers may now have only days before they lose their jobs.

Sensata is a high-tech industry. It produces sensors used in ships, aircraft, automobiles, appliances and other electronics. It supports the supply chain of Ford and GM, both vital US industries. It is an example of a high-value industry that supports well paying jobs and helps to build vital communities around the US. Hundreds of families rely on the wages generated via Sensata’s virtuous cycle of innovation and production. In essence, making things. Many more jobs are also supported via the indirect impacts of this vital industry operating in America.

In addition, Sensata is a corporation that provides a critical service to the US military. It designs sensors that are used on military platforms and, as such, provides a vital and sensitive national-security related service.

As you have probably already surmised, shipping Sensata’s jobs to China is not just a devastating blow to 170 American families. Not only is it a devastating blow to Freeport, who will lose one of its vital industries. It is a blow to US national security to ship a critical feed-in to the US military manufacturing chain to China. It, in essence, knocks a chink in America’s armor.

It is, therefore, somewhat ironic to note that Bain has required Sensata employees to train Chinese workers to produce the equipment and sensors that Sensata designed. This process can be seen as a transfer of intellectual property related to a national security interest directly to China. In addition, and perhaps more disturbing, is the fact that Bain has required the company to lower the American flag for as long as a week while Bain employees were operating on Sensata grounds. No explanation was made for this rather alarming and disturbing practice. And it begs the question — what does Bain have against the American flag and the American nationality itself?

After bearing insult after insult to livelihood, to prospects, to happiness, and to that vital link with the shining value of Americanism and of the hopes she represents — life, liberty, equality — the workers of Sensata broke. They decided to take action.

In a brave show of rebellion against the oppressive and unAmerican outsourcing practices of Bain Capital, Sensata workers have organized a rally against Bain’s heinous activities. They’ve established Bainport — an ongoing protest against Bain’s outsourcing activity. And they will stage a rally there at 3 PM tomorrow to draw attention to a company Mitt Romney founded and that is the very legacy of his career in business. Workers from such companies as French Sampsonite have joined with Sensata workers and will vent their outrage for Bain’s unjust practices tomorrow. Julian Bond, former chair of the NAACP has also joined with Sensata workers in solidarity.

According to reports from the Rock River Times, a local newspaper, the employees of Sensata have gathered over 35,000 signatures for a letter to Mitt Romney, pleading for intervention in a destructive process that threatens so much that is vital to Freeport. The paper noted:

In July, the Freeport City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Romney to meet the workers and use his influence at Bain to intervene on their behalf. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) echoed their call during a trip to Freeport later that month. The situation has even become an issue in the congressional race in Illinois’ 17th district.

So the question comes to Mitt Romney. Why? Why do you keep hurting the American people? Why do you risk American security by shipping vital technology jobs to China? Why have you sought and earned so much profit from so much harm? And why, if you care about Americans, if you really care as much as you have said on the campaign trail over the past two weeks, why are you allowing the destructive processes you pioneered to continue?

If you, Mitt Romney, really do disavow your heinous and disrespectful remarks about 47% of Americans, if you really do feel sorry, then why not use your clout to stop this harm? Though you are not currently the CEO of Bain, you are certainly a major share holder with rights to the company proper. If you so chose, you could use your clout as founder. You could stop the system of harm that you designed from continuing its awful work.

And what do you, Americans, think of someone running for President who has profitted so much from the liquidation of the American worker? Who continues to profit from their liquidation? Is this man patriot enough to be President? And could he be trusted to use that Presidential power in the interest of the people of America?

The real Americans his business practices have hurt so much.

Links:

http://rockrivertimes.com/2012/10/12/french-samsonite-employees-laid-off-by-bain-join-sensata-workers-at-%E2%80%98bainport%E2%80%99-oct-13/

http://www.sensata.com/

http://www.journalstandard.com/news/x887150434/Sensata-workers-go-Bainport-to-protest-Freeport-outsourcing

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