Climate change is here to stay, so deal with it - Axios
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Climate change is here to stay, so deal with it

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Everyone who wants to keep pushing climate policies in the vacuum of Washington leadership should start thinking more about how to adapt to a warmer world instead of focusing most political will on ways to stop it.

Why it matters: The chances of reversing climate change are slim regardless of U.S. involvement in the Paris agreement. Countries, companies, U.S. states and cities and non-governmental organizations pursuing policies to address climate change should refocus their high-level political efforts on ways to prepare for the impacts that are already here and those still to come.

"Adaptation has to become a more active part of the discussion," said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a centrist Washington think tank. "One thing is to recognize adaptation is not a question of defeat. Adaptation is the reality that is already taking place."

To be clear, in many areas of the U.S. and around the world, government and business leaders are considering or already pursuing policies to prepare for a warmer planet, particularly higher sea levels and more extreme storms. Many examples exist, and here are three:

  1. New York City is considered a global leader on this front. In 2013, as mayor of the city, Michael Bloomberg announced a $20 billion plan to adapt to climate change. More recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency, is looking at how it can use large gates to protect Jamaica Bay, near JFK airport, from flooding.
  2. Norfolk, Va., and the many military bases near there, are preparing for rising sea levels.
  3. Miami is adapting its urban planning to be ready for rising sea levels.

These efforts are taking a backseat to America's obsession with the binary fight over whether or not to curb greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels. Judging by the reaction to Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris deal, one would think it was the only answer to solving climate change. But actually, nothing and nobody can solve climate change. Even if the world stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, "many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries," according to the United Nations.

This isn't to suggest abandoning efforts to slow the worst impacts of climate change. It should be an "and" proposition, not "either/or." Countries, companies and others should keep developing technologies and policies to use more renewable energy, nuclear power and cleaner burning fossil-fuel resources. The debate between whether to focus on stopping climate change versus adapting to it has persisted for years within the wonky climate policy world. It's suddenly relevant to more people now with Trump cutting the U.S. out of the Paris deal and deflating hopes of comprehensive global action to curb emissions.

"It's been one of the biggest challenges of climate advocacy over the past decade that there isn't a more robust conversation on what we need to do to adapt to the changing climate," said John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club's federal and international climate campaigns.

Talking about adapting to climate change is easier said than done (and it's not even easy to talk about). That's for a few reasons:

  • Preparing for the impacts of climate change is an inherently local endeavor and the federal government's role is limited. What role the federal government does have, such as authorizing flood insurance, hasn't directly addressed the impacts of rising sea levels.
  • Most Republicans are comfortable talking about adapting to climate change — as long as you don't use those two "c" words.
  • It's expensive and unpopular. Bloomberg's 2013 plan had an initial price tag of $20 billion, but its overall cost, which wasn't disclosed, was projected to be far higher. Some efforts also face opposition from environmentalists, nearby residents and experts who worry about the impacts of such large structures like sea walls or gates.

Grumet and Coequyt both say talking more about adapting to climate change will help provide people with more information about an issue that's otherwise hard to grasp on an individual level. "Talking about adaptation helps people understand in a more tangible manner why we need to address this problem," Coequyt said.

One last ironic thing: A golf course in Ireland owned by one of Trump's companies applied for a sea wall application and specifically cited the consequences of global warming, Politico reported last year in a highly cited article. Proof, at least, that the president's willing to engage in activities to address climate change even if he isn't willing to admit it's a problem.

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Roy Moore refuses to concede

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore looks at election returns. Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

Republican candidate Roy Moore said late Tuesday night that the election for Alabama's U.S. Senate seat wasn't over.

"God is always in control. Part of the problem with this campaign is we've been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light. We've been put in a hole, if you will...what we've got to do is wait on God, and let this process play out...The votes are still coming in and we're looking at that." However, Alabama's Secretary of State told CNN the people of Alabama had spoken, and Doug Jones was the winner.

Go deeper: How Alabama elected Doug Jones.

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Winners & losers from the Alabama special election

Photo: John Bazemore / AP

A Democrat will serve as an Alabama Senator for the first time in two decades after Republican Roy Moore's campaign collapsed following allegations of child sexual abuse.

Why it matters: This is a big, unexpected win for Democrats, and follows another key victory in the Virginia governor's race. It's bad news for the Steve Bannon brand of conservatism and President Trump, who went all in for Moore in the closing weeks.

​Winners:

  • Doug Jones, who had never run for public office before, and won as a Democrat in a red state.
  • Democrats​ now have another important notch on their belt, and will close the gap in the Senate to 51-49.
  • #MeToo: Many voters believed Moore's accusers, and the accusations brought down his campaign.
  • Mainstream Republicans: Moore's baggage would have presented plenty of problems for the GOP down the road, even if they are losing a vote in the Senate.

Losers:

  • Roy Moore: He did the unthinkable, and lost to a Democrat in a statewide Alabama race.
  • Steve Bannon: He was the one promoting Moore from the beginning, over fierce objections within his own party.
  • The Republican Party: The RNC and the president backed an accused sexual predator, and lost. They're also now down a Senate seat.
  • President Trump: He decided to throw his full-throated support behind Moore, and in so doing made his second incorrect bet on the Alabama race. Not to mention, he was the one who appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General — considering it a safe seat.
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Trump, Biden, Clinton react to Doug Jones' victory over Roy Moore

Democrat Doug Jones pulled out a victory over Republican Roy Moore on Tuesday night, after a race that was turned on its head by allegations of child sexual abuse against Moore. Moore was the second Alabama Republican endorsed by President Trump to lose, after he Moore defeated Trump-backed Luther Strange in the primary. Trump congratulated Jones on "a hard fought victory."


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Both Trump-endorsed candidates lose in Alabama

Trump told voters to elect Roy Moore. Photo: AP

President Trump has now twice endorsed the losing candidate in Alabama. He backed Luther Strange in the Republican primary, and threw his weight behind Roy Moore for the general election. Moore was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones tonight.

The big picture: Trump won Alabama by almost 20 points in the 2016 election, but Alabama voters rejected his favored candidates in the Senate race. The same thing happened on Nov. 8 in Virginia, when voters elected Democrat Ralph Northam over Trump-backed Republican Ed Gillespie by a 9-point margin.

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FBI agents on Russia probe called Trump an "idiot"

Photo: AP

Two FBI agents who were assigned to investigate alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin exchanged text messages in which they referred to President Trump as an "idiot," Politico reports, citing copies of the messages provided to Congress by the Justice Dept.

The backdrop: Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired one of the agents, Peter Strzok, from the investigation in late July, "immediately" after he learned of the text exchange, the Justice Dept. told Congress. Lisa Page, the other agent in question, had already left Mueller's team by that point.

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In tax plan negotiations, corporate rate currently sits at 21%

Rubio. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The corporate tax rate currently stands at 21%, according to three sources familiar, as lawmakers work to finalize the tax bill they hope to vote on by next week.

  • Why it matters: Both the House and Senate passed bills that would cut the top corporate rate to 20%, but hours after the Senate bill passed, President Trump said he would accept a 22% rate.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted on Tuesday, likely referring to reports that the individual rate is being lowered to 37%: "20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40k was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1million is fine?" Rubio had wanted to raise the corporate tax to pay for a more generous child tax credit, but was shut down.
Featured

Charming Charlie becomes 20th major retailer to file for bankruptcy this year

Charming Charlie, the Houston-based jewelry and accessories retailer, announced Tuesday that it reached an agreement with lenders and equity sponsors to clear the way for its filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

What went wrong: Charming Charlie's bread-and-butter, affordable jewlery, is an ideal product for online sellers, given that it can be warehoused and shipped cheaply. What's more, even as business migrated online, Charming Charlie overextended itself, opening 79 stores between 2013 and 2015.

Why it matters: It's the twentieth major retailer to have filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017.

Charming Charlie burst onto the retail scene in 2004, with stores uniquely organized by color, and offering products at prices between high-end jewlery stores and discount shops like Claire's, which is aimed at the teenage market.

Featured

Tillerson says he'd meet with North Korea without preconditions

Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that the U.S. was dropping the precondition that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before sitting down together, according to CNN.

"We are ready to have the first meeting with precondition...Let's just meet, and we can talk about the weather if you want. Talk about whether it's going to be a square table or a round table, if that's what you are excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face, and then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards."

Why it matters: Tillerson said demanding North Korea denuclearize is "unworkable," and that Trump agrees it isn't plausible. Tillerson did demand, however, that North Korea "ensure a period of quiet during talks," per CNN.

  • The White House released a statement in regards to Sec. Tillerson's comments, saying: "The President's views on North Korea have not changed. North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world. North Korea's actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea."
Featured

Washington Post reporters barred from Moore's election night party

Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

The Moore campaign has revoked press credentials from reporters for the Washington Post and asked them to leave an election party tonight in Alabama. The campaign also reportedly notified the Post on Monday that its reporters' credentials were denied. It was the Post that broke the story of the first sexual misconduct allegations against Moore.

Featured

Trump's lawyer says Mueller is done interviewing White House staff

Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Ty Cobb, President Trump's White House lawyer, says "all the White House interviews are over” in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, NBC reports.

  • The big picture: Trump's team has repeatedly tried to take the president out of the spotlight of Mueller's investigation and stated that the probe will wrap up this year.
  • The backdrop: Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's private lawyers, told Axios' Mike Allen that he believes a second special counsel is needed, to investigate potential conflicts of interest in the FBI and Department of Justice.