NPR reports that the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has stricken “climate change” and associated verbiage from its strategic plan, on the heels of one of the most expensive years of natural disasters in modern U.S. history.
The plan, published on March 15, says that one of the agency’s major strategic goals is to “ready the nation for catastrophic disasters.” As NPR noted, it does discuss the potential for rising disaster costs:
Disaster costs are expected to continue to increase due to rising natural hazard risk, decaying critical infrastructure, and economic pressures that limit investments in risk resilience. As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, FEMA must ensure that our programs are fiscally sound. Additionally, we will consider new pathways to long-term disaster risk reduction, including increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation.
In a statement to NPR, FEMA Public Affairs Director William Booher said that “this strategic plan fully incorporates future risks from all hazards regardless of cause.”
In the plan, FEMA does not elaborate on the causes of “rising natural hazard risk,” which include human-caused climate change. As National Geographic previously reported, two recent studies found that the record rainfall from Hurricane Harvey—which cost roughly $125 billion—got a 15-percent boost thanks to climate change. The studies also found that climate change roughly tripled the odds of a storm of Harvey’s intensity.
The threats of climate change featured in FEMA strategic plans drafted under the Obama administration, as well as earlier ones. In a 2008 strategic plan drafted under the George W. Bush administration, then-FEMA director R. David Paulison said that future years “will likely present our nation with equally challenging events, including technological incidents, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, or extreme weather events spawned by global warming.”