Aerial view of vehicles sitting amid leaked fuel mixed in with hurricane Harvey floodwaters in the parking lot of Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas. Photo: Adrees Latif / REUTERS

By Paul Thornton
2 September 2017

(The Los Angeles Times) – Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, 2 September 2017. For those of us in and around Los Angeles who still have electricity, here is a helpful tip for keeping the A/C humming throughout this hellish heatwave (hint: turn something else off — now). Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Southern California’s miserable weather isn’t the biggest climate news of the moment, and for good reason: Much of Houston and other parts of Texas spent the week underwater after Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Harvey stalled overhead and dumped record-breaking amounts of rain, turning expansive interstates and neatly laid-out suburbs into shallow inland seas. How much human-caused climate change aided Harvey’s devastation is unclear, but we do know what isn’t aiding anything: President Trump’s denial of global warming.

Harvey resembles the kind of storm climate scientists warned us about: a bigger, less infrequent and more devastating instance of a weather phenomenon not unknown to the area. Houston is no stranger to hurricanes and heavy rain, but Harvey was the kind of storm that part of Texas can expect to receive once every 500 years. Unfortunately, Houston has had three such “500 year” floods in the last three years. Perhaps this should teach Trump a lesson about climate change, says The Times Editorial Board:

If Trump himself were to consult the experts — such as, you know, climate scientists — he would learn that global warming is real. He’d also learn that although warming did not cause Hurricane Harvey, it certainly makes such storms stronger, more unpredictable and quicker to intensify. Experts — there’s that word again — say that warmer air temperatures mean more evaporation of moisture from the seas to the skies, and thus more rainfall from storms. Warmer seas — including the Gulf of Mexico — intensify storms, from their size to their wind speeds, and amplify storm surges. [more]

After Harvey, does Trump still think climate change is a hoax?


By the Times Editorial Board
31 August 2017

(The Los Angeles Times) – As rains fell and floodwaters rose in Houston, President Trump took to Twitter with an “oh, gosh” tweet: “Wow - Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood! We have an all out effort going, and going well!”

How refreshing it is when the president directs our attention to the words of experts — people who ascertain facts, study the issues, dissect the causes of problems, and put their biases and suppositions aside to figure out solutions.

If Trump himself were to consult the experts — such as, you know, climate scientists — he would learn that global warming is real. He’d also learn that although warming did not cause Hurricane Harvey, it certainly makes such storms stronger, more unpredictable and quicker to intensify. Experts — there’s that word again — say that warmer air temperatures mean more evaporation of moisture from the seas to the skies, and thus more rainfall from storms. Warmer seas — including the Gulf of Mexico — intensify storms, from their size to their wind speeds, and amplify storm surges. (In southeast Texas, the flat geography allows a surging Gulf to intrude farther inland.) Another wrinkle, according to atmospheric scientist Michael E. Mann: Climate change modeling suggests that human-propelled global warming could lead to weaker prevailing winds and a jet stream tracking father north. And that appears to have been what led Harvey to park over southeast Texas and dump more than 40 inches of water in places rather than spreading the rain (and pain) around or drifting back out over the Gulf.

Trump flew to Corpus Christi early Tuesday for a personal look at the damage, caused primarily by winds and the surging Gulf. To his credit, the president opted not to visit Houston. Much of that area is still underwater, and a presidential drop-in would only tie up crucial assets necessary for rescuing people sheltering in sodden homes. But we hope that what he sees on his visit (or on TV) spurs some second thoughts about whether human activity — namely, the burning of fossil fuels — is creating a less habitable world. This week, with tens of thousands of people missing, stranded or in need of food, water or shelter, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Harvey “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.”

Ironically, the president two weeks ago rescinded Obama administration standards requiring the federal government to assess and account for the impact of climate change when designing and building new infrastructure projects. Of course, that makes no difference to the current status of Houston, but Harvey’s terrible impact certainly spotlights the foolishness of ignoring climate change. Experts (ahem) in Trump’s own Pentagon know that climate change is real, and they recognize that more extreme heat, droughts, floods and famines threaten international stability while rising seas imperil military bases — especially, of course, naval installations. But rising seas also threaten civilian shipping ports, coastal neighborhoods and sensitive freshwater estuaries. Saline ocean water is already seeping into the Everglades, threatening the freshwater supply of millions of people in southern Florida. Infrastructure must be adapted to account for such changes. And not just in the U.S. Globally, populations in coastal zones are increasing faster than in inland areas, and many of the world’s megacities are built on coasts or in low-lying deltas.

This is the hot, hard reality the world faces, and as we’ve noted before, Trump, along with his Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other proponents of increasing fossil fuel production, are leading the nation in a dangerous direction. [more]

Harvey should be a warning to Trump that climate change is a global threat

1 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    It's a catchy headline, but misleading. Trump has absolutely no excuse (nobody does) to continue to claim climate change isn't real, is a hoax, isn't happening, is a scam, is a conspiracy, etc., etc. Anybody that does lives in a fantasy world.

    Millions of Americans live in a fantasy world - so Trump has plenty of company.

    The confirmation bias that is still being exhibited by climate change deniers post-Harvey isn't going to go away. They will only allow what their belief system supports.

    The article erred, as many do with this bogus claim "He’d also learn that although warming did not cause Hurricane Harvey," - such statements defy physics and are factually untrue. Warming DID cause Harvey. Warming causes ALL hurricanes.

    The Gulf waters are overheated and this led to a massive uptake in water vapor (already 7% higher then average levels). All that water vapor condenses and must come down somewhere. This time, it was Texas's turn.

    I do not personally expect any change in the American landscape (of stupid). Not enough people died to shock through the fantasy movie reel playing in the minds of millions. I'm still reading silly claims that this was all due to "God" and the various reasons He decided to take a piss. Utterly ridiculous claims that have little to do with reality and everything to do with fantasy imaginations.

    Religion is behind the denial movement - and this is a fact that must be recognized for the harm it is causing.  

 

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