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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Entering a critical period on Capitol Hill, President Biden spent Tuesday touring flood damage in New Jersey and New York, where the most lives were lost to Hurricane Ida.

Why it matters: During his walkthroughs of damaged neighborhoods, Biden unequivocally made the connection between the disastrous deluge that broke all-time records and human-caused global warming.

State of play: Biden aims to pass legacy-making pieces of legislation as soon as this month, both of which contain critical components of his climate agenda.

  • In an appearance in Queens, Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued the devastation makes a stark case for the bills at a time when the political pathway for moving them is fraught.

The intrigue: With the narrowest of majorities in both chambers, passing these bills will be, to quote the film, "In the Loop," "Difficult, difficult, lemon, difficult."

The big picture: Climate studies show that human-caused global warming is not only creating a hotter planet, but it's resulting in more frequent and severe precipitation extremes, too.

  • This summer, the U.S. and Europe have been the regions where this has most clearly played out.
  • The western U.S. endured a hot, parched summer that has led to a relentless scourge of large wildfires, while the East has been wet, culminating with deadly flash floods in Tennessee last month and with Ida's inundation. Europe also endured devastating flooding.
  • The record rainfall in New Jersey and New York is what scientists anticipate will occur more frequently with global warming.

State of play: On Tuesday, as Biden walked past homes that had been emptied of their ruined contents, water level marks visible along their walls, he spoke about climate change with urgency.

  • “And so, folks, we got to listen to the scientists and the economists and the national security experts,” Biden said in Queens. “They all tell us this is code red; the nation and the world are in peril.”
  • “We can look around the wreckage and the ruins and the heartbreak from so many communities,” he said.
  • “Precious lives lost in Louisiana, in New Jersey, in New York," he said. "Subway stations flooded. Decaying infrastructure pushed beyond the limits."

What we don't know: Whether the recent disasters will create political traction for the measures on Capitol Hill.

Go deeper

What the initial UN Climate Summit attendance list reveals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN Climate Summit set to begin Oct. 31 in Glasgow will bring an unprecedented combination of leaders for such an event (even Pope Francis!), and the likely absence of vital players — notably Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Why it matters: The speeches and backroom meetings at COP26 between leaders on the summit's first two days will set the tone for the rest of the gathering. These will be moments when countries showcase any new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement's targets.

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park in Chicago on Sept. 28. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

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