Twitter Feud Alert: Michael Brown vs. Resiliency, Climate Science, and Policies That Keep Our Communities Safe

If somebody asked you rank the most epic Twitter feuds, you'd probably mention Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry, or One Direction vs. that guy who used to be in One Direction (we've all forgotten his name already, right?), or Chris Brown vs. everyone. But there's a fight brewing on the social media site this week that deserves a spot in the rankings - because it's about something far more important than celebrity drama.

Former FEMA director Michael "Heckuva Job, Brownie" Brown is beefing with Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists about an incredibly important new FEMA policy. If you've been following NRDC's series of blogs on the topic, you know that FEMA recently published a new guidance document directing states to consider the impacts of climate change when they develop natural disaster preparedness plans.

As FEMA recognized when it announced the new policy, "the challenges posed by climate change, such as more intense storms, frequent heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, extreme flooding, and higher sea levels, could significantly alter the types and magnitudes of hazards impacting states in the future." It's essential that communities across the country start to plan ahead for these changes and develop strategies to keep people and property safe.

While it's usually amusing to see well-known figures snipe at each other in public, in this case the fight is pretty alarming because Brown is using it as a platform to spread misinformation about this critical new FEMA requirement and climate science in general.

The feud started when Brown went on Fox News to diss the new guidelines while also spouting baseless denials of well-established climate projections.

Thankfully, Huertas took to Twitter to defend the FEMA policy and set the record straight on what climate science tells us about our future natural disaster risks.

.@TeamCavuto @MichaelBrownUSA This is U.S.-based, more up to date: Facts, not political spin, on science, please.

-- Aaron Huertas (@aaronhuertas) May 7, 2015

Sadly, instead of engaging in a substantive conversation about the science, Brown stooped to political accusations that dodged the real issues.

@aaronhuertas Never mind I see you're w UCS so you have a leftist bent which sad for science. Science shouldn't have a political bent.

-- Michael Brown (@MichaelBrownUSA) May 7, 2015

@aseifter I am a denier. I deny that man is causing climate to an extent we need public policy to stop it. Man can't stop climate change

-- Michael Brown (@MichaelBrownUSA) May 7, 2015

And when Penn State climatologist Michael Mann chimed in to defend Huertas, Brown attacked him as well.

Jaw-dropping name-calling on twitter by W's former DHS undersecretary Michael D. Brown:

-- Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) May 7, 2015

.@MichaelEMann Yep. Science isn't left or right. Lots of R and D leaders using science to prepare for changing climate, @MichaelBrownUSA.

-- Aaron Huertas (@aaronhuertas) May 7, 2015

#climatechange religious zealouts out in force on my TL today. Fascinating to watch them.

-- Michael Brown (@MichaelBrownUSA) May 7, 2015

.@MichaelBrownUSA Is this zealotry, Mr. Brown? Again, what do you know that your former colleagues don't?

-- Aaron Huertas (@aaronhuertas) May 7, 2015

Brown's policy views, like his Twitter etiquette, are shameful. If anybody should know how important it is to plan ahead for natural disasters, it's the guy who had to resign from his job after his agency botched the response to a natural disaster.

Climate change is projected to have serious impacts on the frequency and intensity of many kinds of natural hazards - including hurricanes - and we can't keep assuming that our future risks are the same as the ones we've experienced in the past. Ignoring the science puts us all in danger, but smart planning saves money and lives. Maybe instead of picking fights online we should be working together with FEMA to make sure we're prepared for the changes that our nation is expected to face.