Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday that the unprecedented rainfall and resulting flooding from Hurricane Harvey should spark a discussion about climate change.
“I think it is pretty dumb not to ask some hard questions about why more rain is now falling, and has fallen in the Houston area, as I understand it, than any time that people can have measured,” Sanders told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
The first priority in responding to Harvey’s devastation should be saving lives and ensuring people affected have adequate and safe housing, Sanders said, but he added that the issue of climate change should also be addressed.
Harvey has dumped an unprecedented amount of rainfall onto Texas — breaking the US record for rainfall from a single storm, according to CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen.
Some areas of Texas saw almost 52 inches of rain, and the full scope of destruction from the storm is still unknown.
“Is it related to climate change? Is some of the intensity and the magnitude of this related to Climate change? I think most scientists believe it is,” Sanders said. “The right question to be asking is ‘what does this mean for the future?'”
On Wednesday night, Cuomo spoke with Trump administration official Kellyanne Conway and asked whether President Donald Trump’s administration would be open to a conversation about the role climate change could have played in the storm.
“Chris, we’re trying to help the people whose lives are literally underwater, and you want to have a conversation about climate change?” Conway responded.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change, which was tasked with making recommendations to government agencies based on findings from a climate report.
“It is my view that Trump is dead wrong when he talks about climate change being a hoax; I think it is a very serious, serious problem for our country and around the world,” Sanders said Thursday.