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Trump's Disastrous Executive Order Could Make Natural Disasters Even Worse

Politicians and policy experts argue that Trump's recent executive order rolling back advancements to fight climate change will make disaster prevention much more difficult.
March 31, 2017, 9:27pm

Below is what happened on Trump's 49th day in office. You can find out what damage was done every other day so far on the Saddest Calendar on the Internet.

Just three days ago, the US federal government cemented its disregard for the health the entire planet when Trump signed an executive order rolling back notable advancements that Obama made to combat global warming, the stains of dirty energy use, and many of the other ways humans have slowly destroyed the planet over the years. Notably, he targeted the Clean Power Plan, which would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants and stopped the construction of new plants, replacing them with cleaner wind and solar farms to help slash carbon emissions.

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While Trump's anti-planet motives has somehow led to some good—notably, countries around the world are answering the US president with more aggressive, pro-environment action plans of their own—the consequences are, unsurprisingly, mostly bad. One particularly alarming warning that experts are talking about is how this executive order will undermine disaster prevention.

"The more governments, UN agencies, organizations, businesses and civil society understand risk and vulnerability, the better equipped they will be to mitigate disasters when they strike and save more lives," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement.

And, speaking to Trump in his own language, a recent report from the Multihazard Mitigation Council explains how dollars spent on reducing the risk of natural hazards is financially advantageous. "On average, a dollar spent by FEMA on hazard mitigation (actions to reduce disaster losses) provides the nation about $4 in future benefits."

According to the Borgen Project, "from 1980 to 2009 there was an 80 percent increase in the growth of climate-related disasters," and "between 2001 and 2010, more than $1.2 trillion was lost to the increased rates of natural disasters." While climate change is not the sole cause, the rise in climatic disasters is linked to man-made and natural elements. This lack of preparation can be devastating.

"Reducing disaster risk goes hand in hand with climate change action and both are essential if we are to achieve sustainable development," Robert Glasser, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said at the GNDR Global Summit in 2016. "While the state has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, responsibilities should be shared with other stakeholders, among them local government, business, the science and technology sector and, importantly, civil society."

With the federal government grossly unconcerned, environmental advocates say disaster prevention has become significantly more difficult for local governments. "The problem is that the job of these state and local leaders just got a lot harder as a result of this executive order," Jessica Grannis, the adaptation program manager at the Georgetown Climate Center, told Reuters.

Since its installation, various organizations have spoken out against the executive order as a whole. Andrew Steer, CEO of the World Resources Institute, accused Trump of "failing a test of leadership to protect Americans' health, the environment and economy." US Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii criticized Trump's order, but ended her statement with optimism.

"Unless we make a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions, invest in clean energy, create green jobs, and improve our air and water quality, we are moving backwards, at a time when our planet simply cannot afford for us to do so," Gabbard said. "In spite of this action today, I have no doubt that Hawaiʻi will continue to lead the nation in renewable energy production. We must continue investing in renewable energy, moving away from foreign oil and fossil fuels, and moving toward our goal of 100% clean energy by 2045."