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Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, after a deluge in the New Orleans area caused widespread flash flooding. 

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD

At the risk of sounding tone deaf, I'm going to say that it's okay to talk about climate change.

I know this is not what a lot of New Orleanians want to hear right now. People are still steaming over Saturday's flood, the Sewerage & Water Board's failings and its leaders' lack of transparency, and rightfully so. I can read the internet as well as anyone else.

And I'm not saying S&WB executive director Cedric Grant didn't sound kind of dismissive when he brought up the subject over the weekend — or tone deaf, as Mayor Mitch Landrieu later put it. Grant's claim that increasingly frequent weather events are part of a new normal in the climate change era had already made him a focal point of resident anger well before he fell on his sword and announced his resignation Tuesday, after revealing that the system was not operating at full capacity after all when a stationary rain storm dumped five to nine inches or more of water on parts of the city.

But the thing is, the scientific community is working toward a consensus that he's right. While it's hard to attribute a particular event to the phenomenon, scientists do believe an overall increase in extreme weather is linked to rising temperatures. It's certainly not the only factor impacting the area's ability to protect itself, but it belongs in the conversation.

And face it. We here in south Louisiana do a terrible job of talking about. We acknowledge soil subsidence and sea level rise, but we don't demand our politicians push for measures that might head off the worst of the risk even if it shifts support from the old energy economy to the new. We let ourselves think these things are distinct, when they are deeply interrelated. Landrieu is about the only local pol to speak out against the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords that just about every country in the world embraces.

I've always thought that former Entergy Corp. CEO Wayne Leonard had it right when he described planning for climate change, even if projections could turn out to be wrong, as a case of simple risk management.

And you can't manage the risk if you're not willing to acknowledge that it exists out loud. 

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.