U.S., Is­rael to pull out of UNESCO

More than two-thirds of those polled say weather dis­as­ters get­ting worse Coun­tries al­lege U.N. agency has anti-Is­rael bias, needs `fun­da­men­tal re­form'

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By Seth Borenstein and Emily Swan­son By Matthew Lee and Thomas Adam­son

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter hur­ri­canes Har­vey, Irma and Maria blitzed the na­tion, most Amer­i­cans think weather dis­as­ters are get­ting more se­vere and see global warm­ing's fin­ger­prints.

A new poll from The As­so­ci­ated Press-NORC Cen­ter for Pub­lic Af­fairs Re­search finds that 68 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think weather dis­as­ters seem to be wors­en­ing, com­pared to 28 per­cent who think they are stay­ing the same and only 4 per­cent who say they are less se­vere.

And 46 per­cent of those who think it's get­ting worse blame man-made cli­mate change mostly or solely for the wild weather, while an­other 39 per­cent say it's a com­bi­na­tion of global warm­ing and nat­u­ral vari­abil­ity.

“Just with all the hur­ri­canes that are hap­pen­ing this year ... it just seems like things are kind of mixed up,” said Kathy We­ber, a 46-year-old stay-ath­ome mom from Menomonie, Wis­con­sin.

When Hur­ri­cane Nate washed ashore in the Gulf Coast ear­lier this month, it was one of the first storms that Greg Thomp­son did not evac­u­ate for. Thomp­son, a re­tired pest con­trol re­searcher in New Or­leans, said “it's pretty ir­ra­tional” that peo­ple and politi­cians can deny global warm­ing when the Gulf of Mex­ico is so much hot­ter than decades ago and storms seem so much more pow­er­ful.

“When so many things are hap­pen­ing and so many of them (storms) are in­tense and so many of them are once-in500-year lev­els and they're all oc­cur­ring, it's a pretty good sign global warm­ing is hav­ing an ef­fect,” Thomp­son said.

Even though she went down to help Hur­ri­cane Har­vey vic­tims in Texas as a mis­sion­ary and mid­wife, Gwen­dolyn Posey of Ok­la­homa just doesn't see any in­crease in ex­treme weather.

“I don't think it's man-made cli­mate change,” Posey said. “It's al­ways chang­ing one way or an­other. It's al­ways in flux.

“Any­time the govern­ment starts ram­ming things down my throat, I im­me­di­ately think it's wrong,” said Posey, a mother of 10, farmer and doc­tor of nat­u­ral medicine.

PARIS — The United States an­nounced Thurs­day it is pulling out of the U.N.'s ed­u­ca­tional, sci­en­tific and cul­tural agency be­cause of what Wash­ing­ton sees as its anti-Is­rael bias and a need for “fun­da­men­tal re­form” in the agency.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Is­rael plans to fol­low suit.

While the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had been pre­par­ing for a likely with­drawal from UNESCO for months, the tim­ing of the State Depart­ment's state­ment was un­ex­pected. The Paris­based agency's ex­ec­u­tive board is in the midst of choos­ing a new chief — with Qatar's Ha­mad bin Ab­du­laziz al-Kawari lead­ing the heated elec­tion head­ing into Fri­day's fi­nal vote.

Out­go­ing Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Irina Bokova ex­pressed “pro­found re­gret” at the U.S. de­ci­sion and tried to de­fend UNESCO's rep­u­ta­tion. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is best known for its World Her­itage pro­gram to pro­tect cul­tural sites and tra­di­tions, but also works to im­prove ed­u­ca­tion for girls, pro­mote un­der­stand­ing of the Holo­caust's hor­rors, and to de­fend me­dia free­dom.

The U.S. stopped fund­ing UNESCO af­ter it voted to in­clude Pales­tine as a mem­ber state in 2011, but the State Depart­ment has main­tained a UNESCO of­fice and sought to weigh in on pol­icy be­hind the scenes.

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