Climate change might have vanished from the EPA website as soon as President Trump took office, but it hasn’t disappeared from the list of things U.S. tax payers have to cover. Extreme weather increase in the past decade have cost Americans a whopping $350 billion over the past decade. That’s per the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ahead of Congress’ motion to approve another several billion in hurricane relief after massive storms pounded Houston, Florida, the Southeast, and Puerto Rico this fall.
In September, the Senate approved a $15 billion package for hurricane relief. Now they’re considering another $36.5 billion of disaster funding. That’s 25% of the past decade’s total $205 billion that the U.S. has had to shell out over just the past few months. The other $145 billion included in the GAO’s report went to $90 billion in crop and flood insurance, $34 billion in wildland fire management, and $28 billion in repairs to government facilities.
“We cannot ignore the impact of climate change,” GOP Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement. “This nonpartisan GAO report Senator Cantwell and I requested contains astonishing numbers about the consequences of climate change for our economy and for the federal budget in particular.” The report is probably slightly underestimating the real costs of climate change, but it was less conservative when it criticized the Trump administration for lacking a “comprehensive, strategic approach” to disaster resilience and “strategic government-wide priorities related to climate change.”
This isn’t the first time that government officials have found themselves out of step with the White House since Trump took office. There have been several instances where the president has been contradicted by his staff on matters of policy, and there’s been a mass exodus of scientists, diplomats, and other staff who feel they are hamstrung in their ability to effectively do their jobs since Trump was elected. But as Trump joins Congress at lunch today to discuss tax cuts and other budgetary matters, maybe he’ll be told of the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.