Aerial view of residents wading through Hurricane Harvey floodwaters with their belongings in Northwest Houston. Photo: Adrees Latif / REUTERS

By Emily Atkin
7 September 2017

(New Republic) – The days leading up to Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas last week were some of the most nerve-wracking in meteorological history. Forecasters watched helplessly as a true monster storm—one that would eventually become the most extreme rain event in recorded American history—moved toward Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city. They gave the most dire warnings they could, developing new colors for maps to show unprecedented intensity, and using more hyperbolic language than ever before. But there was no avoiding the mass devastation. Homes were destroyed. At least 60 people died. The flooding has not even fully receded, and now forecasters are tracking another frightening storm that they don’t quite have the language for.

Hurricane Irma is not only the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm in history, but has maintained its terrifying wind strength for longer than any other hurricane. Irma is a Category 5 storm—the most powerful rating—but it’s so strong that some scientists are wondering whether to create a Category 6. Worst of all, Irma is threatening carnage worse than Harvey, having already wreaked havoc in the Caribbean as it barrels toward the mainland U.S., where both Florida and South Carolina have declared states of emergency.

These two massive storms don’t even represent the full extent of the world’s extreme weather woes right now. As Vox reported last week, “Unusually heavy monsoon rains over the last several weeks have killed over 1,000 people across India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In all, over 41 million people have suffered the direct impact of the rain.” British Columbia is having its worst wildfire season in recorded history. History-making heat waves and drought are driving an unusually strong wildfire season that’s burning up the American West. Every county in the state of Washington is under a state of emergency, and ash is falling like snow in Seattle. The smoke is affecting air quality all the way to the East Coast.

Some extreme weather is to be expected. It is hurricane season, after all. It’s also wildfire season. It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, so it’s pretty hot in a lot of places. And in South Asia, it’s monsoon season.

But the extreme weather events right now are some of the most extreme we’ve ever seen, threatening more human lives than usual. Climate scientists have been warning us for years about this very scenario. “We have extensive scientific evidence that extreme events are increasing around the world, and will continue to increase as climate change gets worse,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of earth system science at Stanford University. “We see global-scale temperature increases. Global sea level is rising. The amount of heat and atmosphere and ocean is increasing. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing. What we’re seeing as a result of those changes is an increase in not only the mean, but the tails of destructive weather events.” […]

Some people don’t like to talk about this kind of thing during life-threatening storms. I agree with some of the reasoning, particularly the argument from Cody Permenter, a native Texan who wrote at Grist that victims suffering from Harvey probably aren’t worrying about climate change when they’re trying to rebuild their homes. “To an audience that already distrusts mainstream, well, anything, you can easily come across as callous and uncaring toward victims of the storm,” he wrote. “If you truly care about mitigating climate change, playing ‘I told you so’ while people are dying and losing their homes isn’t the way to do it.”

But this is not an “I told you so” moment. This is a “stop destroying lives” moment. As these historic weather events become increasingly common, President Donald Trump is working tirelessly to put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—ensuring that the threat of extreme weather will only get worse. He’s trying to scrap as many Obama-era climate policies as possible, slashing funding for climate research, and opening up huge amounts of land for coal mining and fossil fuel drilling. On Wednesday, as Hurricane Irma inched closer to the U.S. mainland, Trump visited an oil refinery to push tax cuts to benefit carbon polluters. Meanwhile, his EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, has said that it would be “opportunistic” and “misplaced” to use events like Harvey to raise concerns about climate change. [more]

This Weather Is Not Normal. And It Will Only Get Worse.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Well, according to Revelation, 2/3 to war, pestilence and famine ..... So, about 4.5 billion?  

  2. Mike McGillicutty said...

    The Sun is causing ALL the planets in the solar system to glow brighter.
    The moon is now seen in full even when in crescent phase because Earth is glowing brighter. Does driving SUVs cause the planets to reflect more light? Do cows farting on Jupiter cause the entire Jovian system to heat up and reflect more light than 30 years ago?

    Of course not. The Sun is changing, and no carbon tax is going to fix that.

    Geo-engineering is what is making hurricanes steer into the most densely populated areas and cause more monetary damage, not humans exhaling causing CO2.

    If you really want to be proactive in reducing pollution, however, you'd wake up to the fallacy of human-caused global warming, and by stopping all spending until it's accomplished, force the govt to release magnetic and carbon nano tech electrical generation technology, and stop them from chemtrailing and HAARP use for weather modification.

    Learn more at geoengineering  

  3. Jim said...

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for dropping by. In these cases, it's worth invoking the Parsimony Principle. Either humans have gotten radiative thermodynamics wrong but somehow still have developed sci-fi technologies like weather control; or humans have gotten radiative thermodynamics right, and Earth's climate system is behaving exactly as predicted. Which is more likely?

    Keep in mind that if we have the thermodynamics wrong, the computer that you're reading this on wouldn't work, because we wouldn't know how to dissipate waste heat from computation.

    Also, consider that climate science doesn't just correctly predict Earth's surface temperature, given the planet's atmospheric chemistry, but it also gets the temperatures right on other planets, like Mars and Venus, and even planets with exotic atmospheres, like Titan. We know, because we've sent probes to these worlds to check.

    Our understanding of radiative thermodynamics even works for stellar atmospheres. Climate science is very general and quite successful. It's a fascinating field, and I always suggest that people read a good college-level textbook to get a better appreciation of the science.  

  4. Mike McGillicutty said...

    It isn't that people have gotten radiative thermodynamics wrong, Jim, it's that the sources, amounts, and cause-effect have been falsely reported.

    In addition, your limited understanding of physics doesn't consider antigravitational endothermic reactions, nano-carbon and nano-copper current production, or a plethora of realities of physics not taught in public schools or 99% of all physics books. College is for those who don't have the innate knowledge. The rest of us get through the censors and communicate with those actually doing the things I mention here.

    To conclude that the average human is responsible for the massive changes to the Sun, and significant weather changes on Earth is to prove cognitive dissonance.

    A FEW humans, those with the controls on the aerosol metals program underway for over 20 years now, DO have the power to significantly change the weather, grow, steer, and dissipate storms, and place high pressure areas wherever they like, to promote their agendae (such as 2030 Sustainable Blah Blah).

    Humans cause pollution, Jim, but what humans do is insignificant compared to a couple of volcanic eruptions, or an X class solar flare hitting the Earth. The cabal that has controlled the planet for over 1000 years is losing its control, and fighting desperately, to the point of atmospheric destruction if necessary, to keep control to the end.

    If you only stick to your college textbooks, Jim, you can only get so far. I think you could grow significantly if you research the life of William Tompkins. If you're bright enough, you will see the light and start commenting in a knowledgeable way.  

  5. Jim said...

    There may indeed be "secret science" that I don't know about, but this doesn't account for why climate science works so well in predicting the temperatures of Earth and other planets (and stars). One doesn't need to invoke secret science to explain the climates of this and other worlds; existing "open" science does just fine.  

  6. Terbreugghen said...

    Sorry, but "climate science" has not "predicted the temperature of the earth." What we currently have are models, and the models are not predictive. WHile it is true that human activity appears to have increased atmospheric CO2 by about 30% over the 1850 level, it is not clear what this means for global temperature. While the political sphere continues to conflate weather with climate when it suits (and avoids that when it doesn't) the fact is that hurricanes and tornadoes have not been getting either stronger or more frequent. What IS occurring is that the dollar value of damages from storms is increasing because of our tenfold population increase and the inflation of currency values. When compared in constant currency, damages from storms has actually declined.

    So much distortion, so little understanding.

  7. Jim said...

    Hi Terbreugghen, thanks for dropping in.

    Considering only first principles of climate science, we get pretty close to the actual surface temperatures of Mars, Earth, and Venus. See Barton Paul Levenson's excellent primer, How to Estimate Planetary Temperatures. The models make pretty specific predictions about temperatures, which we've verified with in situ observations. Climate science works.

    What IS occurring is that the dollar value of damages from storms is increasing because of our tenfold population increase and the inflation of currency values. When compared in constant currency, damages from storms has actually declined.

    The major reinsurance firms don't agree. See, for example, Munich Re's statement on damage from increasing extreme weather events:

    "Based on the changes in weather extremes, it can be predicted that the cost of climate change will be substantial, and that it will steadily rise unless hazard-specific adaptation measures are adopted. It is now an economic imperative to invest in mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases to slow the pace of climate change, and, thereby, achieve a long-term reduction in the economic impact from adaptation costs and losses."

    It's their money on the line, so they're very motivated to get the science right.  

  8. Mike McGillicutty said...

    Your "climate science" is like the NIST report on 9-11. The data is fudged to support a desired "predicted" outcome. A different outcome undermines the attempt at global control of local people.

    No amount of CO2 increase on Earth could cause the other planets to heat up proportionately with Earth. Nice try. No martian SUVs or cow farts.

    There have been no "changes in weather extremes." There've been no supervolcanoes going off, no 10.5 earthquakes, no CAT 7 hurricanes, no record setting high or low temperatures beyond the existing record highs and lows, just people with short memories and a lack of historical records of Earth's natural changes as the Sun changes over thousands of years (real "climate" defining parameters).  

  9. Jim said...

    "No amount of CO2 increase on Earth could cause the other planets to heat up proportionately with Earth."

    Wait, you trust data from astrophysicists? Aren't they in on the conspiracy, too?  


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