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Climate Change

685,000 Americans Evacuated This Week. Could Climate Change Be Responsible?

The hurricane season started earlier and has been more active than any in recent memory. Some think a warming planet is a factor in more powerful storms but not everyone agrees.

685,000 Americans are subject to mandatory evacuation orders this week — 385,000 in Texas, 200,000 in Louisiana, and 100,000 in California according to Forbes. Is it possible that a warming planet had anything to do with either situation? It depends on who you ask.

Hurricane Laura NASA

Credit: NASA

So far, storms in the Atlantic are forming at a record pace. It’s not even September and yet we are already at the L’s — half way through the alphabetical list of names with still more then two months to do in the official hurricane season. Almost everyone except Mike Pence knows the basic science behind these storms. Warm ocean waters fuel bigger, more powerful storms. Warm air can hold more moisture, making those more powerful storms what some call “rain bombs.” The average temperature in the Gulf of Mexico right now is 87º Fahrenheit, which means the shrimp caught in the area is already partially cooked when they are hauled aboard the shrimp boats.

People fear the winds that hurricanes bring, which can tear the roofs off buildings, but heavy rains often do more damage because of the flooding they cause, especially in urban areas. In California, heat waves have helped contribute to an outbreak of 500 wildfires. The scientific consensus is that global warming plays a role in the occurrence of more frequent storms, heat waves, and forest fires.  “Bottom line: every extreme event has potentially been exacerbated by our amped-up climate, and the same is true for Marco, Laura, and the California wildfires,” Dr. Philip Mote,  founding director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, tells Forbes.

Not Everyone Agrees

Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist and internet sensation best known for working for AccuWeather for more than 30 years. AccuWeather has become a locus for climate science deniers and Bastardi is no exception. In a statement issued this week about Hurricane Laura reported byForbes, he said, “When you see comments that Laura is climate change all it does is reveal ignorance of past patterns similar to this that produce in close deepening hurricanes.” In other words, there’s nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Poor Communities Hit Hardest

The coastal area from Houston, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana is where most oil and chemical refineries in the United States are located. How deliciously ironic that the industries that have contributed the most to global warming are being affected the most by it. Sadly, many of the communities in that area are poor communities that are disproportionately affected by the pollution spewing out of those facilities.

“The fence-line community is the one that’s bearing the burden of pollution and industrial encroachment,” Dr. Robert Bullard, a professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University and co-chairman of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, tells the New York Times. “It’s just that simple.”

During the Obama administration, new regulations were put into effect designed to bring more transparency to where hazardous chemicals are stored at industrial facilities and require companies to submit to independent investigations after accidents. But a coalition of chemical and fossil fuel industry groups argued to the Trump administration that the new rules would “impose costly and burdensome obligations on facilities.” In keeping with its loathing for all government regulations, the administration dutifully rescinded the regulations.

Thoughts, Prayers, And Paper Towels Coming Your Way!

Bear in mind that one of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to forbid architects and engineers working on federally funded infrastructure projects to ignore plans to protect those facilities from the effects of climate change. Too costly, Trump thundered. Just build the damn things and worry about climate change later. Trump has announced he is headed to Louisiana to view the carnage left behind by Hurricane Laura personally. No doubt Air Force One will be loaded with tens of thousands of rolls of paper towels the Bully In Chief will pass out to help all those black and brown people along the Gulf Coast mop up after the storm.

It should be noted that Trump has no intention of visiting the people suffering from wildfires in California. Everybody knows all those Californians are lazy, shiftless socialists who hate America, so why would The Donald waste any of his precious golfing time on them? If you said because he is supposed to be the president of all Americans not just those who voted for him, you are a long way toward understanding the cruelty and self-glorification that defines Trump.

If you are still undecided about who to vote for in November, consider this. Trump is the champion of fossil fuel and chemical companies that destroy communities and contribute to global heating. Joe Biden is the one who at least has a plan for dealing with pollution and carbon dioxide poisoning. Choose wisely and vote early if at all possible.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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