Hurricane Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like:

September 25, 2017

by Jenny Song Northwood HS 11th grade

Last month, thousands of Americans were displaced from their homes as a devastating Category 4 hurricane hit Texas. Hurricane Harvey, the first category 3 or higher hurricane in 12 years to make landfall in the US, brought intense amounts of rain that caused disastrous flooding. A loss of billions of dollars in damage is predicted and at least 71 lives have been confirmed to have been lost to it. And it isn’t over: A second, equally damaging and unprecedented hurricane, Irma, has torn apart the Caribbean Islands and is fast approaching Florida as we speak. Not far behind is Hurricane Jose, already predicted to be a Category 5 by the US National Hurricane Center.
All these hurricanes coupled with recent brutal heat waves all around the world and wildfires that covered portions of America’s west coast with smoke all have the “fingerprint of climate change,” according to Paul Ullrich, a climate modeling expert from UC Davis. Although it is difficult to claim direct causation, it is definite that global warming had a great impact on all these disasters.

The unprecedented rainfall that Harvey brought, up to 40 or 50 inches in some places, can be attributed to climate change, which filled the atmosphere with more moisture. The warmed ocean that Harvey passed over gave it more energy, making the hurricane longer and more intense. Although it is still too early to link Irma and Jose to climate change, it is a recorded fact that climate change is making hurricanes worse than the early 1980s (NASA), as well as causing more intense heat waves and possibly worsening forest fires. Climate change is making weather patterns more extreme. All the disasters of this summer stand as a foreshadowing for the climate of the future.

Perhaps the new realization that the dangers of global warming are closer than we think, as well as the tragic loss in lives and dollars will finally convince the nation that something must be done about climate change.

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