Climate change, defined by NASA as, “a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city,” is affecting our weather patterns, and this is causing more severe weather which we have never had to face before. The causes and effects of climate change vary based on personal beliefs, and have been the center of many longstanding debates in the world of politics.
After two major hurricanes struck the country, Irma, and Harvey, the talk on climate change and its effect on weather was stirred up once more. Again, people denied the correlation, writing off scientific facts and truth as if it meant nothing.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, EPA administrator Scott Pruit basically said that we do not need to talk about the causes of the hurricane. Instead, he suggested we focus on the aftermath and what we can do to help the victims. While it’s important to ensure the those affected by Irma get the help they need, there has never been a more opportune time to talk about the effects of climate change on storm systems then after the storm itself.
This is not to say that Harvey and Irma were directly caused by climate change. However, due to rising sea levels and warmer oceans, the storms were much worse than they would have been years ago when the degree of climate change wasn’t as severe.
The hurricanes’ powerful storm surges can be attributed to, “the eastern half of the tropical Atlantic Ocean were between 0.5°C and 1°C above average this summer”, according to Inside Climate News, creating warmer water for the hurricanes to thrive off of.
In addition to hurricanes, the world has recently been rocked by wildfires, droughts and earthquakes. People joke that these recent natural disasters seem like some sort of “end of times” as told in the book of Revelation in the Bible. All joking aside, the number and sheer intensity of natural disasters are concerning, to say the least.
Correlation can be found between climate change and other natural disasters as well.
As the earth’s temperature continues to rise, which has been caused by our dependence on burning fossil fuel which creates heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, according to NOAA climate.gov, moisture in the soil evaporates. The lack of moisture cause draught, which makes it more probably for wildfires to spread easily. Additionally, heatwaves have been more reoccurring than before in history. Caused also by a lack of moisture in the ground, NASA predicts that, “By the end of this century, what have been once-in-20-year extreme heat days (one-day events) are projected to occur every two or three years over most of the nation.” Countering drought, however, other regions are experiencing heavier precipitation levels than ever before, resulting in flooding.
With such events occurring, one would think that our government would begin to act on reconciling the damage done to the environment and work to make sure we do no further damage. Just the opposite seems to be happening. This past August, President Trump signed an executive order to speed up construction of roads, pipelines and bridges by eliminating regulations put in place by the Obama Administration that required the federal government to account for sea level rise and climate change when building infrastructure.
Climate change certainly cannot be ignored. As a nation we need to realize the effect we have on the environment. To ignore the truth about climate change is only going to make things worse. In the aftermath of these natural disasters, our conversations about climate change need to be progressive and open-minded to possible solutions.