Opinion | Of Time, Tides and Trump


O.Ok., I do know you’re obsessed about intercourse and the Supreme Court docket. However the hurricane flooding in North Carolina has been horrible. Let’s give it some critical thought proper now.

Significantly with regards to methods the federal government screwed up. First lesson is straightforward. Coastal flooding is getting means, means worse due to international warming. So clearly we’ve received to hitch different nations in combating this universally acknowledged menace.


Yeah, yeah. President Trump doesn’t imagine in local weather change. Who amongst us can neglect the time he claimed the entire concept was a Chinese language plot to spoil American manufacturing?

Possibly he’ll evolve. In spite of everything, Trump does sometimes present some concern for nature. When he visited North Carolina on Wednesday, he notably inquired concerning the well-being of the state’s Lake Norman. (“I really like that space — I can’t inform you why, however I really like that space.”)

Properly-informed observers did observe that there occurs to be a Trump golf membership on Lake Norman’s shores.

The president got here in for some criticism when, whereas distributing free sizzling canine lunches, he informed one flood sufferer to “have an excellent time.” It’s completely true that our commander in chief tends to babble. However within the grand scheme of issues, this would appear to rank a lot decrease as an issue than, say, ignoring the rising oceans and exploding climate techniques.

If we’re not going to do something to maintain the waters from encroaching, the least the federal government can do is to cease builders from constructing housing on the rising flood plain.

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North Carolina appeared to be considering alongside these strains when it commissioned consultants to determine how a lot the ocean stage was more likely to rise over the subsequent century. They concluded the water may go up by as a lot as 39 inches by 2100.

“We had been able to step as much as the plate and take a tough have a look at this long-term downside …” one scientist told Times reporters.

Go, North Carolina!

“… and we blew it,” he concluded.

Whoops. State lawmakers basically ordered the government to ignore the study.

Some North Carolina politicians are still struggling to get this right, and it would obviously be helpful if they got some encouragement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is supposed to be our go-to expert on climatic disaster. FEMA is also the place to look if you want to reform the federal flood insurance program, which is currently underwriting developments in the wrong places, water-wise.

Right now, FEMA is being run by Brock Long, who seems to have been spending a lot of his time making a 400-mile commute from his home to his office in Washington, using government vehicles. And much of the rest explaining why this is a good plan.

Well, on the plus side, Long lives in North Carolina. At least he can contemplate the flooding on his way to and from work. Let’s hope so, since you’re paying for the drive. And the aides he sometimes brings along and who stay in nearby hotels.

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Maybe there should be a rule requiring that government officials who insist on bringing staffers home with them have to put their helpers up in the family guest room.

Finally, we’re getting to the moment — a high point in all stories about the environment in North Carolina — when we discuss the hog lagoons.

Hog lagoons are basically huge bodies of pig poop. The waste is treated with bacteria that turns it pink. I flew over one of these suckers, and if you ever want to experience what it feels like to soar above what appears to be a large lake of strange-smelling Pepto-Bismol, this is the ticket.

The good news on the hog-lagoon front (Did you ever think you’d read a sentence starting with: “The good news on the hog-lagoon front”?) is that North Carolina farmers, officials, and even some of the Big Pork corporations that created the whole system, have been working to get it under control.

A lot more could probably be done faster if, say, the federal government put big money into closing down hog farms in flood plains. The farmers, you will be happy to hear, are pretty enthusiastic about getting compensation to transition into some new crop that does not create lakes of manure in their neighborhood.

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“As we look toward recovery, we look toward fully funding the lagoon buyout program,” said Maggie Monast of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Department of Agriculture has actually been some help. But what are the chances we’ll see the Environmental Protection Agency spring into action? The E.P.A., you may remember, was until recently headed by Scott Pruitt, the guy with the affinity for first-class air flights and using siren-and-police-light motorcades to get through traffic when he was on his way to dinner.

God, will we never get a cabinet member who likes to take the occasional bus? Now Pruitt is gone and the E.P.A. is run by Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist who was also an aide to Senator James Inhofe, the biggest global warming denier in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Not much to hope for there. How the hell do you get these people to focus on the environment, even if it’s just for flood-prevention purposes? Maybe North Carolina could declare the entire state a Donald Trump golf course.

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Gail Collins is an Op-Ed columnist, a former member of the editorial board and was the primary lady to function Instances editorial web page editor, from 2001 to 2007. @GailCollins Fb


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