By Representative Ed Markey
Right now, the Republican National Committee is scrambling to reschedule events at their "convention reinvention" for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan because of Tropical Storm Isaac. They have already cancelled today's events, scrapped a speech by Donald Trump and are grappling with the fact that the nation's attention may turn away from Tampa and towards Isaac.
But it doesn't have to be all bad for the Republicans. Perhaps this decision will give Republicans an extra day to think about the fact that July was the hottest month ever recorded in the United States; or that we just had the hottest twelve months observed in the United States; or the Dust Bowl-like conditions that have ravaged much of the U.S. this summer; or that sea level rise caused by climate change would put Tampa and other coastal regions underwater.
Cancelling their convention due to yet another damaging weather event should change the conventional wisdom on climate change within the Republican Party.
A recent study conducted by James Hansen of NASA points to Earth's rising temperatures from fossil fuel pollution as the reason for an increase in severe weather events. Just by looking at the last six decades of rising temperatures and the corresponding increase in damaging weather or climate events, Dr. Hansen proves what we all have seen to be true: our weather is getting weirder, and worse.
Even if the GOP is reluctant to finally accept the science behind global warming, they could at least reconsider their attacks on the government-funded satellites and other research that allow us to track and predict storms like Isaac.
According to an analysis prepared at my request by Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee, the Ryan budget calls for an overall reduction in funding of nearly $725 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, impacting 15,000 jobs and crippling the ability of the National Weather Service to provide weather satellite predictions to the American public. The Ryan budget even cuts hurricane forecast modeling by $27 million.
On the eve of the seventh anniversary of Katrina, the people of the Gulf are bracing for another destructive storm. On the eve of their now-rescheduled convention, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan should take this chance to change their position on climate change.