Pence Offers 'Prayers' as Hurricane Laura Hits Gulf Coast While Dismissing Climate Action at RNC
By Jake Johnson
Just hours before Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with wind speed surpassing that of Katrina, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a Republican National Convention speech Wednesday night in which he mentioned climate action once only to reject it, continuing the GOP event's ignoring or downplaying of an emergency wreaking havoc and devastation in real time.
"Wildfires are ravaging the West and a historic storm is barreling toward Texas and Louisiana, and yet not a single speaker had anything real to say about the climate crisis that is happening right before our eyes," Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020, said in a statement. "Denial is not a plan. Thoughts and prayers are not a solution. We must take action now to stave off even more devastation."
Judging only by the attention Republican speakers gave the hurricane on the third night of their party's convention, one may not have grasped the severity of the storm that was barreling toward Louisiana and Texas as the evening progressed, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate as experts warned of catastrophic damage.
The night opened with a prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Laura but, as Politico reported, "it was nearly two hours before the hurricane was mentioned again" by President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who said "may God bless and protect the Gulf states in the path of the hurricane." Lara Trump's address came shortly after Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) spent a portion of her speech smearing the Green New Deal.
.@joniernst joined #RNC2020 & spent 1/2 her speech on floods devastating IA, then closed spreading lies about the #GreenNewDeal.— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) August 27, 2020
She never, however, mentioned the climate crisis, the $355k she’s taken from Big Oil, or GOP abandonment of family farmers.
Iowans will vote her out. https://t.co/VI37oC00ll
Speaking live from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Pence said at the beginning of his remarks that his "prayers are with" those affected by the hurricane set to strike at the heart of the U.S. oil and gas industry, sparking warnings of a looming "environmental nightmare."
"This is a serious storm," added the vice president, who said the White House is "working closely with authorities in the states that will be impacted."
The one time Pence mentioned climate in his remarks was during an attack on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who the vice president said wants to "abolish fossil fuels, end fracking, and impose a regime of climate change regulations." Biden's climate plan, viewed by green groups as insufficient but as a step in the right direction, calls for new regulations on the polluting oil and gas industry but would not end fracking or abolish fossil fuels.
3 nights. 69 speakers.— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) August 27, 2020
Now just one mention of climate change: Mike Pence saying they won’t pass a “regime of climate change regulations.”
Meanwhile...well, just watch the weather channel. https://t.co/xAoHaqqQ31
Pence's remarks came just before Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Cameron, Louisiana early Thursday morning, bringing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and causing widespread power outages across Louisiana and Texas.
"Laura is a storm of historic proportions," the Wall Street Journal reported. "The fast-moving hurricane exploded in intensity Wednesday and had continued to gain strength into the night, with sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, close to the 157 mile-an-hour threshold of a Category 5 storm."
10:30pm UPDATE from the 4th floor of our hotel in Lake Charles! Really now seeing a ramp up in the winds. @StephanieAbrams is LIVE on @weatherchannel down on ground level! #HurricaneLaura #LakeCharles #Louisiana pic.twitter.com/cUc9NhX1lO— Chris Bruin (@TWCChrisBruin) August 27, 2020
In a statement late Wednesday, Climate Power 2020 warned that flooding from the massive storm "could cause some of the 109 Superfund sites in Laura's path to leak toxic chemicals into neighborhoods and drinking water storage."
"In 2017," the group noted, "hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated industrial products and hundreds of tons of air toxins were released into communities because of flooding and damage during Hurricane Harvey."
Echoing the grave warnings of other experts, meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted early Thursday that "Southwest Louisiana will never be the same after this."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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