Paul Krugman: ‘Apocalypse' is the 'new normal’

Paul Krugman: ‘Apocalypse' is the 'new normal’
In this Monday, Dec. 30, 2019 photo provided by State Government of Victoria, a helicopter tackles a wildfire in East Gippsland, Victoria state, Australia. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions Tuesday, Dec. 31, and were feared to have destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (State Government of Victoria via AP)

Natural disasters, from hurricanes and floods to wildfires, have been occurring for centuries. But as climate change accelerates, such disasters will become more frequent. This week, Australia has been battered by destructive wildfires — and liberal economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column, warns that such destruction is becoming “the new normal.”

“The past week’s images from Australia have been nightmarish: walls of flame, blood-red skies, residents huddled on beaches as they try to escape the inferno,” Krugman explains. “The bush fires have been so intense that they have generated ‘fire tornadoes’ powerful enough to flip over heavy trucks.”

The 66-year-old Krugman goes on to assert that Australia’s wildfires are only one of the many recent disasters that underscore the perils of climate change.

“Australia’s summer of fire is only the latest in a string of catastrophic weather events over the past year: unprecedented flooding in the Midwest, a heat wave in India that sent temperatures to 123 degrees, another heat wave that brought unheard-of temperatures to much of Europe,” Krugman warns. “And all of these catastrophes were related to climate change.”

Krugman delivers some more bad news: “Apocalypse will become the new normal, and that’s happening right in front of our eyes.” Moreover, Krugman writes, “Florida as a whole will eventually be swallowed by the sea,” and “much of India will eventually become uninhabitable.”

But Krugman also delivers some good news, observing, “Drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions now look remarkably easy to achieve, at least from an economic point of view. In particular, there has been so much technological progress in alternative energy that the Trump Administration is trying desperately to prop up coal against competition from solar and wind.”

Krugman, however, stresses that in the U.S., “growing climate awareness is mainly taking place among Democrats; the Republican base is largely unmoved. And the anti-environmental extremism of conservative politicians has, if anything, become even more intense as their position has become intellectually untenable.”

Krugman concludes his column by stressing that Trump’s environmental policy has been abysmal.

“Donald Trump and his friends are doing everything they can to create more such disasters,” Krugman emphasizes. “For the truth is that Trump’s environmental policy is the worst thing he’s doing to America and the world. And voters should know that.”

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