The Red River in North Dakota is approaching historic levels. Residents there have been warned that an evacuation of the entire city isn’t out of the question now as the expected crest may hit 41 feet, a level not seen since 1897.
President Obama blames us for this disaster.
“If you look at the flooding that’s going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, ‘If you see an increase of 2 degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?’ ” the president told the reporters. “That indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously.”
With all due respect, President Obama is — how to put this diplomatically — either woefully uninformed or shamefully demagoguing while people’s lives are at stake.
We’ve heard from a couple of people in North Dakota (which is, incidentally, my mom’s home state), and they, at least, take a dim view of the president’s brazen attempt to blame the flood on our use of fossil fuel. The Red floods every spring, and recent floods are worse because of man-made diversions to the river downstream, we’re told.
By the way, I’m not aware of any SUVs or coal-fired power plants adding to our carbon footprint in 1897, the last time the Red River topped 40 feet.
As Yogi would say, you could look it up: the Red River is at a near-record level partly because of the heaping great piles of melting snow from a winter that was unusually rough, even by North Dakota’s harsh standards. (And it’s snowing again: Fargo expects another inch of snow today, while upstream on the Missouri River, Bismarck will get 2 to 4.) A couple extra degrees of warmth this winter might actually have helped by allowing some of this water to move downstream months ago.
The people of North Dakota are a hardy lot. They have to be. Even so, they would have preferred hearing more from the president about federal help for people forced out of their homes instead of being used as an object lesson for the rest of us.