The Federal Emergency Management Agency, responsible for dealing with the effects of disasters like hurricanes and floods, has stripped the words “climate change” from the document meant to guide its actions over the next four years.
FEMA on Thursday released its strategic plan for 2018-2022. It replaces a version issued under former President Barack Obama that repeatedly cited the challenges caused by a changing climate, and the need for FEMA to incorporate those risks into its long-term plans.
By contrast, the new document doesn’t mention climate, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, or any other terminology associated with scientific predictions of rising surface temperatures and their effects.
“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,” the plan states, without saying what might be causing that natural hazard risk to rise.
In a statement, the agency said that its plan “fully incorporates future risks from all hazards regardless of cause. Building upon the foundation established by FEMA’s previous two Strategic Plans, this plan commits the agency, and the nation, to taking proactive steps to increasing pre-disaster investments in preparedness and mitigation.”
The document notes that hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 represented “historic disasters,” but it makes no mention of the conclusions by other federal agencies that such disasters are likely to get worse as the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases.
Brock Long, whom President Donald Trump appointed to run FEMA last year, has equivocated on whether climate change is real and man-made. “The term climate change has become such a political hot button that, I think, I keeps us from having a real dialogue,” he told Bloomberg in an interview last summer.
The National Centers for Environmental Information said there were 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses of $1 billion or more in the U.S. in 2017. For 1980 through 2017 the annual average of such events, adjusted for inflation is 5.8.
Overall, those incidents resulted in 362 deaths and had significant economic impacts on the areas impacted, said the centers, which are part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.