Biden says Hurricane Ian ‘ends discussion’ on climate change as DeSantis looks on

President Joe Biden said that Hurricane Ian – and other extreme events like wildfires and droughts – ended the discussion “about whether or not there is climate change and we should do something about it”.

The President made the remarks after visiting Florida‘s Gulf Coast Wednesday with First Lady Dr Jill Biden where they visited some of the most affected communities.

The Bidens were warmly welcomed by the Republican governor Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey in Fort Myers Beach, a Gulf Coast town, which was largely wiped out by the nearby Category 5 storm.

Mr. Biden and Mr. DeSantis spoke at length, in a rare display of bipartisanship for two men who have publicly tackled burning political issues including immigration and vaccination mandates.

After meeting with residents who had lost homes and businesses, the Florida governor spoke first, thanking President Biden for his support.

The president followed and began by saying that he had “visited many disaster areas over the past six months”.

He referred to large wildfires in the West and Southwest that burned more to the ground than “the entire state of New Jersey.”

“Reservoirs to the west are almost at zero,” he said. “We’re in a situation where the Colorado River is more like a stream.”

As Governor DeSantis looked on, he added, “There’s a lot going on and I think the only thing that’s finally ended is the discussion about whether or not there’s climate change and we should do something about it.”

Mr. DeSantis has repeatedly voted against legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions even as he announced hundreds of millions of dollars to help his state deal with the impacts of growing hurricanes powerful and rising sea levels.

In January 2013, newly elected Congressman DeSantis opposed a $9.7 billion flood insurance assistance package to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New York. Jersey. He said the victims had his sympathy, but sending them the federal funds was not “fiscally responsible.”

The climate crisis doesn’t necessarily mean more hurricanes in the future – but global warming greenhouse gas emissions, largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels, are supercharging storms, making them more common so that they intensify quickly and retain more water.

Hurricane Ian is one of the strongest in Florida history. The hurricane then moved across the state, dropping several feet of rain in cities hundreds of miles inland.

At least 100 people have been killed in Florida. More than half of the deaths occurred in Lee County, where several neighborhoods were wiped out by the impacts. More than 3,000 people have been rescued after search teams knocked on 70,000 doors.

Early estimates put the damage from Hurricane Ian at between $28 billion and $47 billion. Thousands of people are now homeless, and a significant number have no insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) is preparing for potentially thousands of people to be displaced in the long term.

While power has been stored for more than 2.5 million customers in Florida since peak outages, more than 297,000 people remain without power in the state, according to poweroutage.us.

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden addressed Floridians directly. He said he came to tell them in person “we won’t leave until it’s done”

“It’s going to take years for everything to get sorted out in the state of Florida…to rebuild and fully recover,” he added.

During the trip, the president and first lady surveyed storm-ravaged areas from a helicopter en route to the Fishermans Wharf area in Fort Myers Beach.

They then spoke with small business owners and local residents as well as first responders and local officials who worked around the clock in the aftermath of the hurricane.

President Biden issued a major disaster declaration for Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian that provided individual assistance and debris removal for 17 counties and the indigenous Seminole Tribe of Florida, along with associated costs search and rescue, shelter, food and other emergency measures to save lives for 30 days.

Prior to his visit, he made additional federal funding available to Florida for an additional 30 days of assistance.

Meteorologists warn that more hurricanes are undergoing a process called “rapid intensification” where they strengthen over short periods and can surprise regions when they make landfall.

The National Hurricane Center defines “rapid intensification” means an increase in wind strength of at least 30 knots, or about 34 mph, in 24 hours.

An analysis, published last week by researchers from Stony Brook University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, also found that human-induced climate change increased Ian’s extreme rain rates by more than 10 percent, the non-profit organization Climate Signals reported.

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