By Jason Taylor
Please don’t spend time “praying” for people to be safe. Crack open a book on science, instead, and learn about what you (and each of us) can do to safeguard our planet (and thus each other) from future harm.
No, we can’t end hurricanes. But it’s science which gives us the satellites, ocean buoys (measuring water temperature, wave height, and frequency), and scout planes so meteorologists and computer modelers can discover these giant storms and make predictions about where they are going, and when. This gives people time to get out of the way, instead of waking up dead.
The Bible contains no useful information on discovering or evading hurricanes because the folks who wrote it never experienced one. A lot more lives will be saved by thinking about where it’s safe to build and where it’s not, informed by our understanding of our planet’s climate and what changes are coming our way, whether we like them or not.
Those of us who are not having our lives disrupted, losing our homes or in danger of losing our lives, have space to think about what humans are doing to increase severe weather events. Our job is to pay closer attention to what scientists have been saying about climate change and increased severe weather. 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring and is human-caused. Here are two leading climate scientists on Hurricane Harvey:
Michael Mann, Prof of Atmospheric Science, Penn State Univ — “while we cannot say climate change “caused” Hurricane Harvey (that is an ill-posed question), we can say is that it exacerbated several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life. Climate change worsened the impact of Hurricane Harvey.”
James Hansen, Prof. of Climate Science, Columbia State Univ — “there are very clear links.” Like Mann, he cites sea level rise due to melting ice as a cause of increased storm surges, and “the strength of storms. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms all get their energy from the latent energy of water vapor. And because the atmosphere now holds more water vapor, the strength of those storms can be greater. And so, there are substantial human-made effects on these storms. It’s not debatable now. These are all well-established facts.” This is all quickly findable online.
I listened to the mayor of Tampa blame the federal government for Tampa’s lack of infrastructure preparedness for a hurricane. Republicans deny climate change, blame the federal government and then ask for a federal handout. That hypocrisy must be called out and condemned. When Republicans seek federal assistance it is political. If they don’t want it to be political then the state can handle its own problems. And they shouldn’t get federal assistance until they admit climate change and the value of the federal government.
The bigger question is will the climate change deniers in state and federal offices finally admit what everyone knows? Will the GOP forego their plan to further destroy our economy by lowering taxes on the rich, many of whom are indirectly responsible for the damage through their funding of climate change denial?
Let the fossil fuel industry pick up the tab for these storms. They are the ones who have been profiting from denial. Yes, we have always had hurricanes, but not like these.
Time for the GOP to take responsibility for enabling us to reach the tipping point. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House and urged us to change; but Reagan, the destroyer, removed them. We were warned; it is here. Like the fable of the grasshopper and the ants, we failed to take action to prevent climate change from becoming a global disaster. We pumped more and more carbon into the atmosphere as if there would never be a reckoning, and the GOP has the nerve to blame others for being irresponsible for lesser things!
We can no longer hope to stop climate disruption. Will we also keep our collective head in the sand and refuse to take action to adapt? Will we allow the fossil fuel industry to walk away without any consequences? Do they get to ignore the suffering their lies have brought?