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Schatz gains traction with hawkishness over climate

David Shapiro; Honolulu Star Advertiser; September 17, 2017

Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is one of the few congressional Democrats who broken from a consensus in the party to hold fire on climate change politics while hurricane victims in Florida and Texas recover.

Schatz has kept shooting out Twitter posts ripping the Trump administration and Republican senators for dismissal of climate science, which some of them call a “hoax.”

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s climate-denying Environmental Protection Agency administrator, argued it’s insensitive to discuss “the cause and effect” of storms while victims are digging out.

Democrats have mostly gone along; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said, “We have a lot of time to make that point.”

But Schatz wasn’t buying it, tweeting, “Scott Pruitt is not in charge of when we can talk about climate change.”

Another tweet agitated, “Every Senate (Republican) except for one voted for Pruitt. The Republican Party is refusing moral and political responsibility for the planet itself.”

“There’s an instinct to not talk climate during natural disasters (too political),” he tweeted another day. “But we see more and more severe weather hurting Americans.

“I want a bipartisan dialogue on how to prepare for severe weather caused by climate change. Severe weather costs lives and money.”

Schatz calls himself a “climate hawk” on Twitter and has become a leading advocate for urgent action.

“Climate change is real and it is the most urgent challenge of our generation,” Schatz said in another hurricane tweet. “Extreme weather becoming more frequent and severe. If you don’t want to call it ‘climate change’ I understand, but we have to deal with it.”

His critics argue that scientists have made no specific link between climate change and recent hurricanes.

But supporters defend him on the insensitivity claims, saying it’s the same as Republicans not wanting to talk about gun control after a mass shooting.

Schatz, one of the youngest senators at 44, has positioned himself among the most aggressive Democratic lawmakers on social media as they respond to Trump’s unprecedented use of Twitter as a weapon.

He’s drifted into hyperbole and raised eyebrows at times, but he’s also made sharp points, as on climate, that get his views more attention than traditional press releases.

His tweet proclaiming “a full-fledged constitutional crisis” when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey drew a lengthy analysis in “The Atlantic” concluding he was premature.

Online commentary was more pithy, such as “calm down, Skippy,” and “thanks for pulling the fire alarm in a full theater.”

Schatz had to partially walk back his “this is not my president” tweet over Trump’s controversial statements about Charlottesville Nazis.

But on climate change, Schatz appears to be gaining traction on his view that now is exactly the time to talk about the challenge, when people can see the threat with their own eyes.

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