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Trump Ally Lindsey Graham Says Climate Change Is Real and Trump Should Admit It

Politics
Senator Graham returns after playing a round of golf with Trump on Oct. 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Ron Sachs – Pool / Getty Images

Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Senate Republican who has been a close ally of Donald Trump, did not mince words last week on the climate crisis and what he thinks the president needs to do about it.


"I would encourage the President to look long and hard at the science and find a solution. I'm tired of playing defense on the environment," he said in a news conference alongside other GOP lawmakers who gathered to announce the formation of the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, which will "embrace and promote constructive efforts to resolve conservation and environmental problems," as USA Today reported.

The group of House and Senate Republicans formed a list of priorities to address, including public land access, water quality and ocean pollution. The new caucus named themselves after Teddy Roosevelt, the ardent outdoorsman who founded the National Parks Service.

In the news conference, following the announcement, the climate crisis was a major topic since the president has been openly hostile to it and Republican congressmen have fallen in line. The president has called the climate crisis a hoax, withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, and opened up leases for greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels.

"When nine out of 10 scientists say (carbon dioxide) emissions are creating a greenhouse gas effect and the planet is warming up, I believe the nine and not the one," Sen. Graham said, as South Carolina's Post and Courier reported.

Noting that Republicans seemed out of step with the general public and ignored the climate crisis at their own peril, Graham added, "We will win the solution debate, but the only way you're going to win the debate is admit we've got a problem. Let's talk about climate change from the innovative and not the regulatory approach."

This is not the first time Graham has differed with Trump on the climate crisis. Two years ago, he asked Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris agreement. And, in April, he said, "Climate change is real, the science is sound and the solutions are available. If I told Trump that [special counsel Robert] Mueller thinks climate change is a hoax, we'd be well on our way," as CNN reported.

In announcing the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, Graham showed a difference of opinion from the president, but he did not put forth any new ideas, nor did he back bold action. In fact, he used the moment to take a swipe at Democrats, calling the Green New Deal "crazy economics."

"Innovation is going to do more to solve this problem than any government mandate," he said. "We believe our friends on the other side care about the environment, but they care so much they're going to destroy the economy in the name of saving the environment," as The Hill reported.

The Republican group hinted that that plans for a carbon tax, climate-resilient infrastructure and increased funding of clean energy research will be some of their first proposals, according to the National Review. And Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, added that environmental responsibility means addressing ocean plastics, but she did not specify how, as the Post and Courier reported.

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Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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