Climate change deniers are looking dumber than ever as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose all hit the Americas one after the other.
With Harvey and Jose reaching category four and Irma making it all the way to the maximum category five, there is no way these consecutive natural disasters can be called a coincidence, said Phillip Williamson, Ph.D., NERC Science Coordinator at University of East Anglia in an Independent News article.
People who think global warming is a hoax often point to the fact that Earth does go through natural cycles of extreme heat and extreme cold, so how can people know that global warming is caused by humans?
Well, the best evidence is found in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
It’s commonly known in the scientific community that CO2 is trapped by burning coal, oil and gasses. Scientists also know how to tell the difference between the burning of those fossil fuels and the naturally released CO2 from plants and animals, according to Climate Central.
Not only have CO2 levels increased, but about a quarter of the CO2 in the atmosphere is the result of human activity, according to Climate Central.
Due to the rising levels of CO2, the average global surface temperatures are 0.94 degrees celsius above the 1950 to 1980 average, and the 17 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998–with 2016 and 2017 being the hottest and second hottest, respectively, according to NASA.
The average global surface temperature change may seem small and insignificant at less than one degree, but it has a huge impact on Earth – most relevant to the hurricanes are the rising ocean levels and temperatures.
“Damaging hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons occur in tropical parts of the world at the time of year when the sea is warmest. So if the world gets warmer still, the risk increases–it’s as simple as that,” Williamson said in an Independent News article.
Climate experts are the first to say that global warming is not to blame for causing the hurricanes. However, most agree that global warming definitely made them worse and is probably the reason they happened within weeks of each other.
“No individual meteorological event is attributable exclusively to shifting climate, but human alteration of the atmosphere is having a major role in causing more costly and more frequent extreme weather events,” said Jeffrey S. Kargel, Ph.D., a professor from the University of Arizona’s Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences.
These storms have increased rainfall and flooding, and therefore increased damage, due to global warming, according to the Guardian.
A warmer atmosphere that enhanced the storm’s ability to retain moisture and increased ocean levels allowed for the storm surge to be half a foot higher than it would have been a couple decades ago, according to an interview the Guardian conducted with Michael E. Mann, a professor of meteorology and director of the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University.
In response to the devastation these hurricanes are bringing, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told CNN that he wanted to focus on helping the people facing the effects of the storm and refused to talk about the cause of it.
While the priority should absolutely be to help the people caught in the storms, it is irresponsible to ignore this opportunity to inform and rally people behind the truth of what global warming can and will do.
Especially since Pruitt himself has initiated a push against EPA regulations that would protect the earth from greenhouse gas emissions.
President Donald Trump has also made it known that he does not care about the environment, first by hiring Scott Pruitt, and most recently by withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is a treaty that “brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so,” according to the official United Nations website.
Some of Trump’s reasons for withdrawing were that it would cause job losses, electrical brownouts and blackouts and have a negative impact on the economy.
Hurricanes cause all these things too.
Global warming is real and getting worse by the year. The public needs to start taking it seriously and make active, tangible efforts in slowing it down because if we don’t, the natural disasters are only going to become worse and more frequent.