Hurricane Irma is a Manmade Disaster

first_img Amazon Employees Join Sept. 20 Global Climate WalkoutResearchers Transform CO2 Into Liquid Fuel Stay on target While a good chunk of media have been focused on the catastrophic flooding in Texas, that’s far from the only disaster story this year. The Observer reports than more than 40 million people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal are already in desperate need of humanitarian aid with another 100 million more across the globe. And Hurricane Irma is currently laying siege to the Caribbean, with Florida and the US coastline next in its sites.Irma is already the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, a fact which Trump greeted with child-like amazement on twitter early this morning. In a few days we’ll no-doubt see the president trek to the devastated areas, promise aid and move on. While that certainly gives the appearance of coordination and efficacy, scientists warn that governments have already failed to protect their people by not addressing climate change sooner.Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017“Even I, as a climate scientist, am startled to see another potentially devastating storm in this region so shortly after Harvey,” Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research told the Guardian.Make no mistake, Irma and Harvey aren’t just big storms. Each, on their own, would have likely been year-defining events for the US. Houston has already faced three instances of so-called 100 or 500-year floods over the past couple years, and Irma is so powerful that contact with much of the Carribean has already been lost, and many instruments designed to measure hurricane wind speeds have completely broken. Islands like St. Barthelemy and Barbuda are facing their first category five storm since records began back in the 1850s.Whatever happens in the next few days, scientists have been clear and direct — this is a new normal and we should expect things to get much, much worse in the coming years.Obviously, much like the issue of climate change itself, these storms don’t have a single cause. On their own, humans can’t just conjure something like Irma. Global conditions like El Nino and La Nina have big impacts, as do a myriad of other factors that affect a storm’s total power, but people sure as hell aren’t helping.Hurricane #Irma now a category 5 and it’s a beast. It’s larger than the state of Ohio, if that helps put it in perspective. pic.twitter.com/JtoZNlONeE— JD Rudd – News5 (@jdrudd) September 5, 2017“Unfortunately,” Levermann said, “the physics are very clear: hurricanes get their destructive energy from ocean heat, and currently water surface temperatures in this region are very high.”As cyclones (the precursor to hurricanes) form, they draw power from warm water. Water can hold a tremendous amount of heat. That’s one of the things that makes it great for cooling us off when we sweat, or why a dive into a chill pool on a summer day feel like a dip in the Arctic. In fact, the majority of the excess heat we would have expected from climate change has, instead, been absorbed by our oceans.Normally, as these storms strengthen, they also churn up the ocean, bringing cool water from the depths up to the surface — effectively killing themselves. That’s exactly why the Gulf of Mexico tends to get such ludicrously strong vortices: the shallow water means that even when a storm dredges the ocean floor, it’s still pulling up relatively warm water. That Irma has formed well out in the open ocean and been able to gain so much power in spite of that is sparking debates among climate experts about just how long they should remain silent.Many prominent thinkers have come out to say that Irma is a “man-made” catastrophe and that we must act now and be absolutely unyielding in addressing climate change less we face more super-charged storms down the line.“We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life. Take what you need, but only what you need,” Florida Governor Rick Scott advised constituents on Wednesday.At time of writing, Irma is more than 400 miles across. It has already claimed two lives and destroyed countless structures, including many of the toughest on islands like St. Martin. Those in the path have been issued many emergency evacuation warnings. And the greatest minds of our time say that this was, in large part, preventable. And there’s already more storms lining up behind it. And that’s just the disasters aimed at one slice of one part of the world. Hundreds of millions are now facing one of the largest global crises in history. Climate change is already here, and it is our fault.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

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