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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

A sea of ignorance during hurricane season

Across the nation, politicians are proposing and enacting brutal cuts to state and national environmental agencies.

A woman speaks into a cellphone asking for

A woman speaks into a cellphone asking for help at her flooded residence in Lumberton, North Carolina, In the wake of Hurricane Florence. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images / ALEX EDELMAN

‘You can stand under my umbrella . . .”

Thanks a lot, Rihanna, but when the next superstorm slams New York, it’s not going to do us a bit of good. And there’s no doubt it will hit — the only question is when.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated NYC- area shorelines, homes and businesses. Coastlines were evacuated, transit service was suspended for days, and downtown Manhattan looked like Venice.

If we make it through October, we’re probably safe for 2018. Phew! But the truth is, we’re living on borrowed time. Hey, don’t kill the messenger.

In the Carolinas and Florida, “kill the messenger” might as well be the states’ motto. Recently pounded by Hurricane Florence, North Carolina had allowed extensive development along its vulnerable coast, ignoring the threat of rising sea levels. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Rick Scott banned employees of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection from using the terms “global warming” and “climate change.”

The federal government isn’t much better. Climate-change skeptic Scott Pruitt, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency until this summer, refused to discuss global warming and its effects (“Now is not the time!”) after Hurricane Irma blasted Florida last year. Soon after, by strange coincidence, Pruitt spent $43,000 of government money to build a soundproof booth for his office (“I can’t hear you!”).

Several tropical systems are forming in the Atlantic. Will these systems grow stronger, hit land and cause major damage? Stone Age state officials hope if they cover their eyes, the storm gods will spare them.

Across the nation, politicians are proposing and enacting brutal cuts to state and national environmental agencies. Solutions are impossible where climate science is politicized, underfunded and ridiculed.

With such ignorant leaders, is it any wonder that global warming, which puts more water vapor into the atmosphere to produce heavier downpours and provides more energy for destructive storms, is scoffed at by so many Americans?

Meanwhile, New York is spending millions of dollars to fortify its shorelines and build barriers to prevent the next Sandy from destroying homes and flooding the subway and rail lines.

Will it work? Unfortunately, we might find out soon enough.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.

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