Climate Change Houston, Hurricane Harvey and climate change

Published on August 28th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley

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85 Degree Water & Warmer Than Normal Air Contributed To Hurricane Harvey Strength

August 28th, 2017 by  

The Texas Gulf Coast is still getting whacked right now from the most powerful storm to hit the United States in 12 years, and global warming is partly responsible. Here’s how the climate dynamics work: Warm air holds more water vapor than cool air. Warm ocean temperatures are the engine that drives hurricanes and typhoons, creating higher than normal wind speeds.

Hurricane Harvey and climate change

Texas Coast Is In Hot Water

The water temperature off South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico has been a staggering 85 degrees — 5 degrees more than normal. A person could be forgiven for thinking of the frog in a pot of water gradually heating up on the stove. Meteorologists are predicting the Texas coast could receive as much as 35 inches of rain over a three day period, primarily because the unusually warm air in the area can hold more of the moisture the hurricane is sucking up from the overheated Gulf.

That is more water than any area of open ground could possibly absorb, but when it comes to Houston — America’s 4th largest city — its miles and miles of pavement mean there is no place for the rainwater to go. Significant flooding in Houston is anticipated, especially if the storm stalls over land as it is expected to do. Houston has 30 paved parking spaces for every one of its residents.

Hell & High Water Study

In March of last year, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune teamed up on a study of how vulnerable Houston is to a major storm. It is entitled “Hell and High Water” and it reports that, “A major hurricane could bring economic and ecological disaster” to the area, including flood damage, destruction of entire low-lying neighborhoods, devastation to Galveston, and a massive disruption of US based oil and shipping industries:

“Such a storm would devastate the Houston Ship Channel, shuttering one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Flanked by 10 major refineries — including the nation’s largest — and dozens of chemical manufacturing plants, the Ship Channel is a crucial transportation route for crude oil and other key products, such as plastics and pesticides. A shutdown could lead to a spike in gasoline prices and many consumer goods — everything from car tires to cell phone parts to prescription pills.”

How ironic that a storm made more powerful by human impact on global climate change should carry the potential to destroy the very oil infrastructure that has contributed so much to global warming. It is almost as ironic as warmer ocean and air temperatures making it possible for tankers carrying fossil fuels to traverse the Arctic Ocean without the aid of an ice breaker because the sea ice is thinner than it has been in hundreds if not thousands of years.

As Propublica wrote, “Scientists tell us that it is simply a matter of when, and not if, a monster storm is coming for Houston. Given this reality, this project examines why so few steps have been taken to safeguard this valuable and vulnerable region.” Since the study came out more than a year ago, Houston has taken no action to implement its recommendations.

Recently, #FakePresident Trump has rolled back flood protection rules for federal building projects. The move puts taxpayer dollars at risk by allowing more development in areas prone to flooding. It is incomprehensible The Donald can be so stupid, but his ignorance apparently knows no bounds.

Whiners Cruz & Cornyn Demand Federal Help

Will Hurricane Harvey change anyone’s mind about climate change and global warming or prod Houston officials to lift a finger to protect the city or its residents from future storms? Not likely. Instead, the very people who bleat the loudest about federal interventionist policies — Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — have already called upon Washington to shoulder the losses that will certainly result from the storm. Two-faced lying weasels in Congress may not be the exclusive domain of the Republican party, but it certainly has more than its share of of them.

Source: Think Progress





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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Elie Wiesel



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