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Research Last Updated: Sep 16, 2017 - 11:21:51 AM


Hurricane Harvey and Irma Awoke the Sleeping Giant of Climate Change
By Dr Nasrullah Khan Kalair,Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan 12/9/17
Sep 14, 2017 - 10:30:35 AM

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Violent winds and torrential rains during Harvey and Irma hurricanes reveal how the nature speaks. These hurricanes are natural consequence of climate change to which the President Donald Trump and Ministers deny, déjà vu, Paris Accord. Harvey inflicted flood on land Irma pulled beach waters leaving ocean floor dry. Hurricane Harvey disrupted oil (21% loss), gas (25.71% loss), power (50% loss),water,food, supply and health lifelines leaving despair, debris and bog in its wake. Flood waters disabled reregistration system causing Arkema plant explosion. Harvey and Irma have caused catastrophes in US and Bahamas.

1. Hurricane Harvey and Climate Change

Hurricane Harvey awoke the sleeping giant of climate change. American public wants to know whether Harvey hurricane has any inpmicit and explicit link with climate change. America faces more natural hurricanes, twisters and tornadoes than all other countries on the planet, yet the intensity of hurricane Harvey was more than the earlier records.

According to Morgan Stanley Research theKatrina ($160 billion), Harvey ($50-$150 billion), Sandy ($70.2 billion), Irma ($50 billion), Andrew ($47.8 billion), Ike ($34.8 billion), Ivan ($27.1 billion), Wilma ($24.3 billion), Rita ($23.7 billion), Charley ($21.1 billion), Hugo ($18.2 billion), Irene ($15 billion) and Mathew ($10 billion)hurricanes caused life and property losses worth$492billions to United States of the America. Earlier estimates equated Harvey to Ike, but later statistics worse than Katrina [National, 2017]. Future hurricanes might be even more stronger.

Harvey hurricane (25-31 August 2017) may be compared to Katrina (25-30 August 2005), but it was more severe than Sandy (30-31 October 2012), Andrew storm (23-27 August 1992), 12-14 September 2008), Ivan (12-21 September 2004), Wilma (24 October 2005), Rita (20-24 September 2005), Charley (13-14 August 2004), Hugo (21-22 September 1989), Irene (26-28 August 2011), Mathew (28 Sep-10 Oct 2016) and other storms recorded in recent American history [1Emily 2017 Washinston post].

Scientists, politicians, media and othersattributed hurricane Harvey to climate change [Seth 2017, Alissa 2017, Emily 2017], natural disasters [IIan 2017, Chris 2017, Ciara 2017], historic data[Vanessa 2017, Christopher 2017, Robert 2017] and spiriritual reasons [Erwin 2017, Kimberly 2017, Pastor 2017, Kathleen 2017]. Rapid rise ofwet winds, landfalls and flash rains appears to be an chaotic phenonmenon. It appears as if stimulated convection created vacuum which sucked wet winds over water bodies at high speeds.

NOAA and NASA scientists will simulate Harvey phenomenon in due course of time, it seems to be result of brisk atmospheric convection pulling soaked wet winds at high speed. NASA/NOAA captured lightning flashes in hurricane Harvey. Greenhouse and Whitehouse means same earlier causes natural disasters and later instigates artificial catastrophes through wild and trump cards. Greenhouse effect inflicts heat/cold waves and Whitehouse wreaks hot/cold wars.

Harvey hurricane harks back Paris Accord. Relating Harvey hurricane to climate change on 30 August 2017, Sophie said [Sophie 2017], “ Unprecedented flooding unleashed by Hurricane Harvey in the southern United States underscores the need for even wealthy countries to ramp up their disaster plans to keep vulnerable people safe and help them deal with the knock-out blows climate change could bring, experts say.Yet few expect the devastation wrought by Harvey to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to boost government funding to prevent disasters or reinstate regulations that would limit heat-trapping emissions and protect infrastructure from extreme weather, let alone reconsider his decision to quit the Paris Agreement on climate change."What Hurricane Harvey is demonstrating to those few hold-out climate change sceptics is that this is our new reality. And it's only going to get worse," said Heather Coleman, associate director for climate change and energy policy at Oxfam America.

"As we've seen in other disasters here and around the world, it's the poorest who are the most vulnerable."..At least 17 (66 actually) people have been killed, while tens of thousands are fleeing their homes as Harvey, which slammed into Texas from the Gulf of Mexico at the weekend, brings major flooding. Trump arrived in Texas on Tuesday to survey the damage from Harvey, now a slow-moving tropical storm, and said he wanted the relief effort to stand as an example of how to respond to a storm. Police, National Guard troops, city officials and other rescue workers are helping people evacuate to shelters in Houston, the fourth most-populous U.S. city, and a state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana. The biggest storm to hit Texas in 50 years (500 years), Harvey could cause up to $20 billion ($70 to$180 actually) in insured losses, making it one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, according to Wall Street analysts.

In some cases, governments may have to decide to relocate people and infrastructure from disaster-prone areas, he added. "What we've gotten pretty good at overall is dealing with the immediate disaster event - meaning moving people out of harm's way... to eliminate the loss of life," said Scheuer. "In most cases, what we have not gotten good at is... to ensure that every investment we make is made with understanding the risk involved." Despite the hefty cost of Hurricane Harvey, many experts doubt that Trump will acknowledge the scientific link between climate change and weather disasters, or bolster funding and regulation to limit devastation from future floods and storms. "The Trump administration so far has not really shown any inclination to create policy based on realities on the ground - and certainly not based on challenges that every day people are facing," said Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns for ActionAid USA,”

According to Ashley and Brandon [Ashley 2017], “Before Hurricane Harvey even made landfall in Texas, many people were asking whether this churning storm in the Gulf of Mexico and its predicted impact were intensified by climate change,”. Here's a breakdown from experts.To understand how Harvey could be impacted by climate change, you have to understand how unique a storm it is. Harvey underwent "rapid intensification," gaining strength very quickly. From Thursday morning into Friday afternoon, it transitioned from a tropical storm with winds of 45 miles per hour to a Category 3 major hurricane with winds of 125 miles per hour in only 36 hours.

Rapid intensification isn't necessarily rare, but it is very hard to forecast. When all the conditions come together just right, a storm can really "blow up" and intensify very quickly.Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm over the weekend and expected to make a third landfall.It is rare for a storm to move inland and then back out again over the same body of water it came from. Excessive rainfall has caused flooding more devastating than the impact of Harvey's initial landfall itself.Inland flooding is often one of the worst impacts for storms making landfall. With the stalling of the storm over land, the flood threat has become Harvey's lasting impression.

CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen labeled Harvey a "one-in-1,000-years type of event."By amount of rainfall, Harvey might end up ranking No. 1.Gradually warming temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico -- as much as 2 degrees Celsius above average -- could be a pressure cooker for key ingredients of a hurricane: extreme winds, rainfall and storm surge.Where Harvey intensified and made landfall off the Texas/Mexico coast, the water temperatures were about 1 degree Celsius above average. The highest water temperatures were in the eastern Gulf, near Florida.

This warm area of the eastern Gulf is also where a tropical disturbance has been trying to form for the past week, but it never became a tropical depression. So although warmer water can be associated with strong hurricanes, that isn't always the case.The most direct ways climate change influences hurricane landfalls can come in the form of increased storm surge as a result of sea level rise. The storm creating the surge might not be worse, but if it is occurring along a coast where sea levels are higher because of climate change, the storm surge itself will then be higher.

"The globally averaged sea level has risen about 7 inches in the last century largely due to the climate change effects of warming ocean water and glacial land ice melting and flowing into the oceans," Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at the nonprofit Climate Central, wrote in an email. "This higher sea level means that storm surge or the coastal flooding that occurs when a hurricane makes landfall is higher and reaches farther inland."The other direct way climate change can influence hurricanes is through rainfall. More extreme precipitation is one of the calling cards of a warmer world, experts say."A warmer atmosphere can also hold more water," Sublette wrote. "It's the reason that it feels humid in the summer, but not the winter -- there is more actual water vapor in the atmosphere. For every 1°F of warming, the atmosphere can hold 4% more water vapor. And the global atmosphere is about 1-3°F warmer than a century ago."

This has been predicted with models and has been observed across the Southeast and specifically in Texas, according to John W. Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and the Texas state climatologist."The heaviest rainfall in Texas has been associated with landfalling tropical storms," Nielsen-Gammon said. "In 1979, thunderstorms associated with Tropical Storm Claudette dropped 42 inches of rain in 24 hours just south of Houston. While most storms won't be that exceptional, climate change is making even heavier rainfall possible."Scientists will analyze the connections between Harvey and climate change using historical observations and computer simulations, but that won't occur until the storm is over.But they are already trying to answer questions about the storm and what caused it.

"Across the world and the United States -- and in Houston specifically over the last couple of decades -- heavy precipitation events have been increasing in frequency and intensity, as predicted by climate science," Adam Sobel, a professor at Columbia University who researches atmospheric and climate dynamics, wrote in an email. "Given the specific meteorological situation (the positions of the high pressure systems and the jet stream), and the presence of a major city in the location it is, Harvey would have been a huge disaster with or without warming.""There is some infrastructure we don't want to fail under any circumstances, such as large dams that need to withstand any conceivable flood, but we have to put a limit on what is conceivable, and with climate change, that is becoming more and more difficult."

According to Doyle Rice[Doyle 2017] ,” With unknown numbers of people dead, missing or displaced, writing about a potential link between a national tragedy like Hurricane Harvey and man-made climate change is an understandably touchy subject.  "If you think appropriate time to do so is while floodwaters are continuing to rise, then that opportunism reflects your personal values," tweeted WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue. "What we need right now is an informed, reasoned, intellectual debate on climate change and extreme events."Another meteorologist, Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia, also said he had concerns. "I am uncomfortable discussing as a human tragedy unfolds, but when the dust settles, the conversation needs to happen — and a recent National Academies report on attribution is a good place to start. Attribution studies on Harvey will happen."

Climate change remains a polarizing issue in our already divided country. And whenever a huge weather event like Harvey occurs, a debate rages in the meteorological community about whether it is appropriate to discuss potential links between climate change and that specific event. The report that Shepherd referred to, which was released in 2016, said there is no evidence that the number of tropical cyclones (tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons) have increased in recent decades as the planet has warmed. However, there has been "marginally significant increases in the frequency of category 4 and 5 storms."Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane at landfall Friday night, the strongest storm to hit the U.S. in 12 years.Looking ahead, though, the report warned that "tropical cyclones are projected to become more intense as the climate warms." Precipitation in tropical cyclones is expected to increase because of the increased water vapor content of the atmosphere, similarly to other extreme precipitation events, the report said.

The theory goes that a warmer atmosphere would make hurricanes more intense than they would otherwise be. "Climate change is making even heavier rainfall possible," noted John W. Nielsen-Gammon, a Texas A&M University meteorologist and the Texas State Climatologist.Another expert, Adam Sobel of Columbia University, said that "based on many previous studies of extreme precipitation events, as well as our overall scientific understanding, it is plausible to expect that they (tropical cyclones) will show some amplification due to increased water vapor in a warmer atmosphere."

But Sobel said Harvey would have been a huge disaster in Houston with or without global warming. This is because of the specific meteorological situation of Harvey (the positions of the high-pressure systems and the jet stream), and the presence of a major city in the location it is."There are ideas about how the meteorological situation could have been influenced by warming, but those are much less robust and well-understood, and at this point I view it as a natural occurrence by default," Sobel said.

Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann, writing in the Guardian, said we can’t say that Hurricane Harvey was caused by climate change, but it was certainly worsened by it.Because of sea-level rise and unusually warm ocean temperatures, "climate change exacerbated several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life," Mann wrote.Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M said that "we know sea-level rise made the storm surge worse, and warmer ocean and atmospheric temps certainly increased total rainfall."

A Cornell University expert agreed that Harvey was caused by a number of meteorological ingredients, Art DeGaetano said. But he said climate change affected the strength and impacts of Harvey by warming the atmosphere and oceans and increasing sea levels."Warmer air is capable of holding more water vapor which in turn means more rainfall," he said. "Warm water in the Gulf of Mexico provides a necessary ingredient for storm formation and strengthening. Storm surge flooding along the coast worsens as sea level rises.”Meteorologist Eric Holthaus, a contributor to Grist, took a more philosophical view: "Harvey is what climate change looks like," he said. "More specifically, Harvey is what climate change looks like in a world that has decided, over and over, that it doesn't want to take climate change seriously."Be wary of those that caution against 'politicizing' Harvey," Holthaus said. "Our choices — development, social supports, climate change — are what led to this. If we don't talk about the social context of Harvey, we won't be able to prevent future disasters. It's our moral duty to talk climate now."

Aside from climate change, humans may have contributed to the disaster in other ways: Houston is an example of how historically increasing development has created a “concrete jungle” that exacerbates flooding, said Stephen Strader, a professor in Villanova University’s Department of Geography.Texas Tech climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe also said that Houston's vulnerability — its huge population, crumbling infrastructure and urban growth — played a huge role in the disaster that Harvey became. "We need to reduce vulnerability," she said.She added, however, that although we can't yet make any definitive, specific statements on Harvey, she said in general, with a warmer atmosphere and ocean because of climate change, there will be more rainfall associated with a given storm. Sea-level rise will also worsen a hurricane's storm surge, which roars ashore as a hurricane nears land. she said.But instead of debating climate change, "a better focus in the short term is on those with expertise in disaster response and recovery. The politicized debate over climate change can wait," the University of Colorado's Roger Pielke Jr. said.

According to Robinson[Robinson 2017],” Some models suggest that the storm will linger over the area until Wednesday night, dumping 50 inches of water in total on Houston and the surrounding area.“Local rainfall amounts of 50 inches would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record. The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before,” said a statement from the National Weather Service. “Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for several days.” (In years of weather reporting, I have never seen a statement this blunt and ominous.)This means that thousands of people—and perhaps tens of thousands of people—are facing a terrifying and all-too-real struggle to survive right now. In an age when the climate is changing rapidly, a natural question to ask is: What role did human-caused global warming play in strengthening this storm?

Climate scientists, who specialize in thinking about the Earth system as a whole, are often reticent to link any one weather event to global climate change. But they say that aspects of the case of Hurricane Harvey—and the recent history of tropical cyclones worldwide—suggest global warming is making a bad situation worse.It may not be obvious why global warming has anything to do with hurricane strength. Climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. These gases prevent some of the sun’s rays from bouncing back into space, trapping heat in the planetary system and raising air temperatures all over the world.

This warmer air causes evaporation to happen faster, which can lead to more moisture in the atmosphere. But that phenomenon alone does not explain climate change’s effects on Harvey.Storms like Harvey are helped by one of the consequences of climate change: As the air warms, some of that heat is absorbed by the ocean, which in turn raises the temperature of the sea’s upper layers.Harvey benefited from unusually toasty waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm roared toward Houston last week, sea-surface waters near Texas rose to between 2.7 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average. These waters were some of the hottest spots of ocean surface in the world. The tropical storm, feeding off this unusual warmth, was able to progress from a tropical depression to a category-four hurricane in roughly 48 hours.

“This is the main fuel for the storm,” says Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Although these storms occur naturally, the storm is apt to be more intense, maybe a bit bigger, longer-lasting, and with much heavier rainfalls [because of that ocean heat].”This also suggests an explanation for one of Harvey’s strangest and scariest behaviors. The storm intensified up until the moment of landfall, achieving category-four strength hours before it slammed into the Texas coast. This is not only rare for tropical cyclones in the western Gulf of Mexico: It may be unique. In the past 30 years of records, no storms west of Florida have intensified in the last 12 hours before landfall.Harvey is just the kind of weird weather that scientists expect to see more of as the planet warms.Why do storms normally weaken—and why didn’t Harvey? As mentioned above, hurricanes feed and grow on warm ocean surface waters. But as they grow, their strong winds often pick up seawater, churning the oceans and moving the warmest waters deep below the surface. The same winds also bring newer, colder water closer to the atmosphere, which usually serves to drain energy and weaken the storm.

That didn’t happen with Harvey. The hurricane churned up water 100 or even 200 meters below the surface, said Trenberth, but this water was still warm—meaning that the storm could keep growing and strengthening. “Harvey was not in a good position to intensify the way it did, because it was so close to land. It’s amazing it was able to do that,” he told me….“The human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm,” he said. “It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway—but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably.”More generally, it’s still unclear what effect climate change is having on hurricane formation across the greater Atlantic Ocean. A draft version of a major U.S. government review of climate science due out later this year says there is “medium confidence” that human activities “have contributed to the observed upward trend in North Atlantic hurricane activity since the 1970s.”

Houston has been ground zero for super-damaging storms lately. It has seen four 100-year flooding events since the spring of 2015, according to the meteorologist Eric Holthaus. The city also sees 167 percent more heavy downpours than it did in the 1950s. Meanwhile, only one-sixth of its residents have federal flood insurance, though that program has struggled to adjust to the increased flooding risk associated with climate change.Yet even compared to recent storms, Harvey is unprecedented—just the kind of weird weather that scientists expect to see more of as the planet warms. Harvey has already dumped more water on Harris County than Tropical Storm Allison, the area’s previous worst-ever flooding disaster in 2001, though it has only lasted half the time of that earlier storm.And it will keep raining. As of Sunday afternoon, Buffalo Bayou, a major river near downtown Houston, is one foot above flood stage. It is projected to rise as much as another 12 feet today alone,”

According to Andrew[Andrew 2017],” Over the past week we have seen two major tropical storms devastate different parts of the world. First Typhoon Hato struck Hong Kong and Southern China, killing at least a dozen people. And over the weekend Hurricane Harvey made landfall from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing extremely heavy rain to southern Texas and causing devastating floods in Houston.Tropical cyclones are, of course, a natural feature of our climate. But the extreme impacts of these recent storms, especially in Houston, has understandably led to questions over whether climate change is to blame.

Tropical cyclones, called typhoons in the Northwest Pacific and hurricanes in the North Atlantic, are major storm systems that initiate near the equator and can hit locations in the tropics and subtropics around the world.When we look at the Atlantic Basin we see increases in tropical storm numbers over the past century, although there is high year-to-year variability. The year 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, marks the high point.We can be confident that we’re seeing more severe tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic than we did a few decades ago. It is likely that climate change has contributed to this trend, although there is low statistical confidence associated with this statement. What that means is that this observed increase in hurricane frequency is more likely than not linked with climate change, but the increase may also be linked to decadal variability.

Unlike other types of extreme weather such as heat waves, the influence of climate change on tropical cyclones is hard to pin down. This is because tropical cyclones form as a result of many factors coming together, including high sea surface temperatures, and weak changes in wind strength through the depth of the atmosphere. These storms are also difficult to simulate using climate models. To study changes in tropical cyclones we need to run our models at high resolution and with interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean being represented.It’s much easier to study heat extremes, because we can do this by looking at a single, continuous variable: temperature. Tropical cyclones, on the other hand, aren’t a continuous variable; they either form or they don’t. This makes them much harder to model and study.Tropical cyclones also have many different characteristics that might change in unpredictable ways as they develop, including their track, their overall size, and their strength. Different aspects of the cyclones are likely to change in different ways, and no two cyclones are the same. Compare that with a heat wave, which often have similar spatial features.For all these reasons, it is very hard to say exactly how climate change has affected Hurricane Harvey.

While it’s hard to pin the blame for Hurricane Harvey directly on climate change, we can say this: human-caused climate change has enhanced some of the impacts of the storm.Fortunately, in Harvey’s case, the storm surge hasn’t been too bad, unlike for Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, for example. This is because Harvey didn’t travel as far, and weakened rapidly when it made landfall.We know that storm surges due to tropical cyclones have been enhanced by climate change. This is because the background sea level has increased, making it more likely that storm surges will inundate larger unprotected coastal regions.Building levees and sea walls can alleviate some of these impacts, although these barriers will need to be higher (and therefore more expensive) in the future to keep out the rising seas.Harvey’s biggest effect is through its intense and prolonged rainfall. A low pressure system to the north is keeping Harvey over southern Texas, resulting in greater rainfall totals.We know that climate change is enhancing extreme rainfall. As the atmosphere is getting warmer, it can hold more moisture (roughly 7% more for every 1 degree Celsius℃ rise in temperature). This means that when we get the right circumstances for very extreme rainfall to occur, climate change is likely to make these events even worse than they would have been otherwise. Without a full analysis, it is hard to put exact numbers on this effect, but on a basic level, wetter skies mean more intense rain.

However, according to BBC Envoronment Reporter Matt[Matt 2017],” When it comes to the causes of Hurricane Harvey, climate change is not a smoking gun.However, there are a few spent cartridge cases marked global warming in the immediate vicinity.Hurricanes are complex, naturally occurring beasts - extremely difficult to predict, with or without the backdrop of rising global temperatures.The scientific reality of attributing a role to climate change in worsening the impact of hurricanes is also hard to tease out simply because these are fairly rare events and there is not a huge amount of historical data.

There's a well-established physical law, the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, that says that a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture.For every extra degree Celsius in warming, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water. This tends to make rainfall events even more extreme when they occur.Another element that we can mention with some confidence is the temperature of the seas."The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are about 1.5 degrees warmer above what they were from 1980-2010," Sir Brian Hoskins from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change told BBC Radio 4's Today programme."That is very significant because it means the potential for a stronger storm is there, and the contribution of global warming to the warmer waters in the Gulf, it's almost inevitable that there was a contribution to that."

Researchers are also quite confident in linking the intensity of the rainfall that is still falling in the Houston area to climate change."This is the type of event, in terms of the extreme rainfall, that we would expect to see more of in a warming climate," Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford told BBC News.Environmental lawyers are questioning whether events like Harvey should still be referred to as "Acts of God" or "Natural Disasters" as they are made worse by emissions from fossil fuels.In a comment paper in the journal Nature Geoscience, they say legal action may be taken against countries that don't contribute to the global effort to cut emissions.Lawsuits seeking to apportion responsibility for climatic events have generally failed in the past.But lawyers from the firms Client Earth in London and Earth and Water Law in Washington say that's likely to change.

They believe a new branch of knowledge called attribution science will allow the courts to decide with reasonable confidence that individual events have been exacerbated by manmade climate change.They believe in future governments and firms risk being successfully sued if they don't cut their emissions."For the intensity of the rainfall (over Houston), it is very reasonable to assume there is a signal from climate change in that intensity."One big question, though, is the persistence of the storm over the Texas area. This has been key to the scale of the downpour and the amount of flooding that has been seen so far.Some researchers believe that climate is playing a role here too.Prof Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says that a general slowdown in atmospheric circulation in mid-latitudes is a possible follow-on from a changing climate elsewhere in the world."This is a consequence of the disproportionally strong warming in the Arctic; it can make weather systems move less and stay longer in a given location - which can significantly enhance the impacts of rainfall extremes, just like we're sadly witnessing in Houston."

However, slow-moving storms over Texas have appeared before. Tropical storms Claudette in 1979 and Allison in 2001 had huge rainfall impacts as they settled in place over the state for long periods. Other scientists think that attributing the slowly meandering nature of this storm to climate change is a step too far."I don't think we should speculate on these more difficult and complex links like melting in the Arctic without looking into these effects in a dedicated study," said Dr Otto.Experts say that in looking at a storm like Harvey, the impact of climate change is not simply about higher temperatures in the atmosphere and in the seas - it is also linked to changes in atmospheric circulation patterns.Sometimes, the temperature and circulation changes brought about by warming can cancel each other out. Other times they can make the impacts worse.

Understanding the full picture will be difficult and expensive."For hurricanes, we would ask the question as to what are the possible hurricane developments in the world we live in and compare that to the possible hurricane developments in a world without climate change," said Dr Otto."These high-resolution models are very expensive to run over and over again so that you can simulate possible weather rather than tracks of hurricanes."Other researchers say that we are looking at the issue entirely the wrong way.Regardless of the human impact on climate change, indirectly making Harvey worse - they believe the real human contribution to the catastrophe is far more simple and straightforward."The hurricane is just a storm, it is not the disaster," said Dr Ilan Kelman, at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and Institute for Global Health at University College London."The disaster is the fact that Houston population has increased by 40% since 1990. The disaster is the fact that many people were too poor to afford insurance or evacuate."Climate change did not make people build along a vulnerable coastline so the disaster itself is our choice and is not linked to climate change."

According to Emily, Alex and Amy [Emily 2017], “the Houston Dam spills over first time in history. One of two major flood-control reservoirs in the Houston area began spilling over for the first time in history, despite efforts to prevent such “uncontrolled” overflow the day before, officials said.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Tuesday morning that water was spilling from the north end of the Addicks Reservoir, which has been overwhelmed by extreme rainfall from Hurricane Harvey. Officials said they expect the Barker Reservoir, to the south of Addicks, to begin overflowing similarly at some point Wednesday.A Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist said the overflow from the reservoirs would eventually flow into downtown Houston.

The reservoirs, which flank Interstate 10 on the west side of Houston, feed into the Buffalo Bayou and are surrounded by parks and residential areas. Water levels in the two reservoirs had already reached record levels Monday evening, measuring 105 feet at Addicks and 99 feet at Barker.Engineers were unable to measure water levels at the Barker Reservoir on Tuesday because its gauge was flooded overnight, said Jeff Lindner, the Harris County flood control meteorologist.The overflow did not represent a “failure” of the dam, stressed Richard K. Long, a natural resource management specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers.

“These are not your typical dams; these are unique because of the type of terrain we have,” Long said, referring to Houston’s relatively flat plain. The Addicks and Barker reservoirs each have a main spillway and two auxiliary spillways. Water hadn’t breached any of those spillways, but instead was overflowing through a slightly lower point on the north end of the Addicks Reservoir.“But again, we don’t know what Mother Nature’s going to give us,” Long told The Post on Tuesday.And either way, he added, “it’s going to take quite a while for us to get rid of all this water.” Officials had hoped to prevent just such a spillover by releasing water — slowly, at first — from both the Addicks and Barker dams, starting early Monday morning. Water levels in both reservoirs had “increased dramatically” late Sunday night, rising more than half a foot per hour, leaving engineers with two choices: to begin releasing water through the dam gates earlier than expected — or risk it spilling out suddenly around the ends of the dams.

“If we don’t begin releasing now, the volume of uncontrolled water around the dams will be higher and have a greater impact on the surrounding communities,” Col. Lars Zetterstrom, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District commander, said in a statement about 2:30 a.m. Monday. “ … It’s going to be better to release the water through the gates directly into Buffalo Bayou as opposed to letting it go around the end and through additional neighborhoods and ultimately into the bayou.”The Corps planned Monday to release water at 4,000 cubic feet per second from each reservoir over a six- to 10-hour period. Officials said thousands of homes along the reservoirs could be affected, and by midmorning Monday, streets and houses in some surrounding neighborhoods had already begun flooding. (A list of subdivisions adjacent to the reservoirs is available here.)

Officials had originally predicted the storm water levels in both reservoirs would not threaten nongovernment land until early Monday (for the area around the Addicks Reservoir) and Wednesday (for the Barker Reservoir).Because of that, the release from Addicks Reservoir had been slated to start at 2 a.m. Monday, and from Barker Reservoir a day later.Late Sunday night, local officials issued voluntary evacuation notices for residents around the reservoirs — but urged them to wait until daylight to leave the area, if they chose to do so. About 2:30 a.m. Monday, however, the rapidly rising water levels prompted the Army Corps to begin releasing water from both reservoirs.A few hours later, residents in adjacent neighborhoods — including Canyon Gate at Cinco Ranch to the southwest of Barker Reservoir and Bear Creek Village near Addicks Reservoir — were reporting rising water levels in their streets and approaching their homes.

On Tuesday afternoon, helicopters and boats roamed the upscale subdivisions southwest of the Barker Reservoir, attempting rescues of families.Jason Mckey, who lives in the Canyon Gate neighborhood and works to restore wetlands so there won’t be flooding, had spent morning rescuing neighbors in his black duck-hunting mud boat as the controlled releases from the Barker Reservoir affected the area.“It’s mostly elderly people in just horrible way,” Mckey said as he put on his duck-hunting waders.People in the Lakemont neighborhood, just south of Canyon Gate, were streaming out of their homes, huddled under umbrellas near a Walgreens. Fountains in the neighborhood’s man-made lakes were still running strong and had started to overflow.

“We never flood,” said Gloria Strayhorn, a retired interior designer who was out for a walk her husband. They were in raincoats and shook their heads at an overflowing lake, suggesting the man-made bodies of water were only adding to the problem.“They were just refurbished this spring and they spent so much money setting up benches — and now look,” Strayhorn said.Much of the relatively new development is built on former rice farmland and cow pastures, the Strayhorns said. Wetlands are normally a natural drainage system, but new subdivisions, with all their pavement, have left the water with nowhere to go.“We couldn’t sleep when we heard the reservoirs would be released,” said Jessica Wang, 34, who lives in a neighborhood called Grand Ridge Crossing in Katy, just southwest of the Barker Reservoir.

Wang said her family had taken in another family from a flood-prone area — resulting in eight people under one roof — because they thought their area wouldn’t flood. Now, on Tuesday, they were watching rescue missions from the road and said that homes nearby had water up to their chests.“It’s hard to say what’s gonna happen now,” Wang said. “Every time I say, ‘No, it won’t happen,’ it happens.”

To complicate any evacuation efforts, several major roadways that run through both reservoirs are underwater, including portions of State Highway 6, Barker-Cypress Road, Clay Road and Westheimer Parkway. Officials expect those routes to remain impassable for “several weeks to several months.”The Addicks and Barker dams and reservoirs were both authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1938 and completed in the 1940s to prevent the flooding of downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates the reservoirs.Addicks Dam is more than 11 miles long, while Barker Dam is more than 13 miles long.The Harris County Flood Control District noted the structures “have protected greater Houston area residents against loss of life and property over the last 70 years” and that there were no signs of structural issues with the dams.

At a news conference Monday morning, Lindner, the Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist, sought to clarify why neighborhoods to the west of the reservoirs were being affected by rising water levels, if the dams were releasing into the Buffalo Bayou to the east. There was, he said, simply a higher amount of water flowing into the reservoirs from its feeder creeks in Waller, Fort Bend and western Harris counties.“You have a dam around the front of the reservoir, and the back of the reservoir acts as a bathtub,” he said. “So as the pool rises, it will back up to the west, like the water would back up to your bathtub … How far west it goes will be determined by the coordination with the Corps of Engineers and releases of the water managing those upstream inflows.”Lindner added: “Of course, the wild card to all this is additional rainfall.”Record rainfall levels have drenched Houston over the past four days. August is now the wettest month of all time for the city, surpassing June 2001, when Tropical Storm Allison battered the area, according to the National Weather Service. A flash flood watch for the Houston area is in effect through Wednesday, the Weather Service said.A Periscope video by storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski about 8:30 a.m. Monday showed water reaching about the midpoint of the Baker Reservoir, leaving only the tops of trees visible.

According to Oliver [Oliver 2017],” Myron Ebell, who headed the EPA’s transition team when Trump became president, said the last decade has been a period of ‘low hurricane activity’.Conservative groups with close links to the Trump administration have sought to ridicule the link between climate change and events such as tropical storm Harvey, amid warnings from scientists that storms are being exacerbated by warming temperatures.Harvey, which smashed into the Texas coast on Friday, rapidly developed into a Category 4 hurricane and has drenched parts of Houston with around 50in of rain in less than a week, more than the city typically receives in a year. So much rain fell that the National Weather Service had to add new colours to its maps.

The flooding has resulted in at least 15 deaths, with more than 30,000 people forced from their homes. Fema has warned that hundreds of thousands of people will require federal help for several years, with Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, calling Harvey “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced”. Insurers have warned the cost of the damage could amount to $100bn.Some scientists have pointed to the tropical storm as further evidence of the dangers of climate change, with Penn State University professor of meteorology Michael Mann stating that warming temperatures “worsened the impact” of the storm, heightening the risk to life and property.

Conservative groups, however, have mobilized to downplay or mock any association between the storm and climate change. Myron Ebell, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team when Donald Trump became president, said the last decade has been a “period of low hurricane activity” and pointed out that previous hurricanes occurred when emissions were lower.“Instead of wasting colossal sums of money on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, much smaller amounts should be spent on improving the infrastructure that protects the Gulf and Atlantic costs,” said Ebell, who is director of environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian thinktank that has received donations from fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil.

Thomas Pyle, who led Trump’s transition team for the department of energy, said: “It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the left is exploiting Hurricane Harveyto try and advance their political agenda, but it won’t work.“When everything is a problem related to climate change, the solutions no longer become attainable. That is their fundamental problem.”Pyle is president of the Institute of Energy Research, which was founded in Houston but is now based in Washington DC. The nonprofit organization has consistently questioned the science of climate change and has close ties to the Koch family.

The Heartland Institute, a prominent conservative group that produced a blueprint of cuts to the EPA that has been mirrored by the Trump administration’s budget, quoted a procession of figures from the worlds of economics, mathematics and engineering to ridicule the climate change dimension of Harvey.“In the bizarro world of the climate change cultists ... Harvey will be creativeely spun to ‘prove’ there are dire effects linked to man-created climate change, a theory that is not proven by the available science,” said Bette Grande, a Heartland research fellow and a Republican who served in the North Dakota state legislature until 2014.“Facts do not get in the way of climate change alarmism, and we will continue to fight for the truth in the months and years to come.”

Harvey was the most powerful storm to hit Texas in 50 years, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is “premature” to conclude that there has already been an increase in Atlantic-born hurricanes due to temperatures that have risen globally, on average, by around 1C since the industrial revolution.Scientists have also been reluctant to assign individual storms to climate change but recent research has sought to isolate global changes from natural variability in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

However, researchers are also increasingly certain that the warming of the atmosphere and oceans is likely to fuel longer or more destructive hurricanes. A draft of the upcoming national climate assessment states there is “high confidence” that there will be an increase in the intensity and precipitation rates of hurricanes and typhoons in the Atlantic and Pacific as temperatures rise further.Harvey may well fit that theory, according to climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, as the hurricane managed to turn from a tropical depression to a category four event in little more than two days, fed by a patch of the Gulf of Mexico that was up to 4C warmer than the long term average.“When storms start to get going, they churn up water from deeper in the ocean and this colder water can slow them down,” said Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “But if the upwelling water is warmer, it gives them a longer lifetime and larger intensity. There is now more ocean heat deep below the surface. The Atlantic was primed for an event like this.”

While the number of hurricanes may actually fall, scientists warn the remaining events will likely be stronger. A warmer atmosphere holds more evaporated water, which can fuel precipitation – Trenberth said as much as 30% of Harvey’s rainfall could be attributed to global warming. For lower-lying areas, the storm surge created by hurricanes is worsened by a sea level that is rising, on average, by around 3.5mm a year across the globe.The oil and gas industry has sought to see off the threat in the Gulf of Mexico with taller platforms – post-Katrina, offshore rigs are around 90ft above sea levelcompared to 70ft in the 1990s – but the Houston, the epicenter of the industry, is considered vulnerable due to its relaxed approach to planning that has seen housing built in flood-prone areas.

Barack Obama’s administration established a rule that sought to flood-proof new federal infrastructure projects by demanding they incorporate the latest climate change science. Last week, Trump announced he would scrap the rule, provoking a rebuke from Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican congressman who called the move “irresponsible”.Curbelo, who has attempted to rally Republicans to address climate change, wouldn’t comment on the climate change link to Harvey. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Texas’s Republican senators, didn’t respond to questions on the climate link, nor did Abbott, the state’s governor, or Dan Patrick, Texas’s lieutenant governor.

All four of the Texas politicians have expressed doubts over the broad scientific understanding that the world is warming and that human activity is the primary cause.“It’s essential to talk about climate change in relation to events like Hurricane Harvey and it’s sad a lot of reports don’t mention it in any way,” said Trenberth.“You don’t want to overstate it but climate change is a contributor and is making storms more intense. A relatively small increase in intensity can do a tremendous amount of damage. It’s enough for thresholds to be crossed and for things to start breaking.”

Moddy waters of hurricane Harvey yet have not dried up, according to Dominique [Dominique 2017],”President Donald Trump has finally made his choice for NASA’s next chief, but the nominee has been met with opposition from scientists and politicians on both sides of the aisle. Opponents argue that Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who must be confirmed by the Senate, is a poor choice for the NASA administrator’s job. The three main points of contention? He’s political, lacks scientific credentials and doubts that humans contribute to climate change.Bridenstine, has no background in science or engineering. He is, however, a former Navy combat pilot and the former executive director of the Air & Space Museum & Planetarium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has also repeatedly expressed a passion for space exploration, and since 2016 has been a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

 

2. Hurricane Irma and Global Warming

After disrupting life in Bahamas and Cuba the Hurricane Irma landfall in Miami left one million without power, 100,000 in shelters and 6.3 million under evacuation order. Honorable President Donald Trump and Pruitt refused to accept any link between Irma and global warming.

 

According to Joe [Joe 2017],” In an interview with CNN on Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, Pruitt slammed scientists for discussing “the cause and effect of these storms,” saying that “to use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to the people in Florida.”That statement flies in the face of a growing body of scientific evidence connecting climate change to more intense and destructive hurricanes. As we’ve written, if we can’t talk about what’s to come, and what’s driving it, then how can we plan for it? How can we rebuild wisely?

 

Pruitt himself apparently never wants to address the issue. Indeed, Politico reported Friday that “EPA’s climate change adaptation staff will be dissolved.” Specifically, this is “the team formerly focused on preparing for sea-level rise and extreme weather.” In other words, Pruitt would like to end all talk about climate change during a superstorm — and then ensure his agency doesn’t discuss how our understanding of climate change and sea level rise might help communities prepare for the next extreme storm. But if we spend tens of billions of dollars trying to rebuild Houston without an understanding of sea level rise or the role of climate change in juicing extreme weather, then Houston will just keep getting inundated and we’ll keep rebuilding it the wrong way.

 

In an administration full of cabinet members and high-ranking appointees who reject the scientific consensus on climate change, Pruitt may well be the foremost climate science denier. His anti-science views are so extreme that even Fox News felt compelled to debunk him on air…Last week, climate scientists explained how global warming, while not the “cause” of superstorm Harvey, had worsened every aspect of it. This week, scientists have been explaining how climate change helped juice Irma into one of the strongest super-hurricanes on record, with the most sustained high-intensity winds the world has ever seen.

 

CNN itself talked to several climate scientists and reported their conclusion that the warming Gulf temperatures, which were up to 3.6°F warmer than normal “could be a pressure cooker for key ingredients of a hurricane: extreme winds, rainfall and storm surge.” Pruitt, however, told CNN that “to have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”

 

Last week, however, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt labeled such efforts to attack scientists for talking about the climate-hurricane link during a superstorm, “BS” and an effort to “control the story &deligitimize other voices.” He pointed out that “unless you are actually a first responder or work for FEMA, you have enough bandwidth” to talk about climate science.

 

What does Pruitt think the EPA should be doing now? He told CNN, “What we need to focus on is access to clean water.” But in a Friday New York Times op-ed piece, “How Not to Run the E.P.A.,” former George W. Bush EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman explained that Pruitt isn’t even doing the job of protecting the nation’s access to clean water. She slams “Mr. Pruitt’s swift and legally questionable repeals of E.P.A. regulations — actions that pose real and lasting threats to the nation’s land, air, water and public health.”

 

According to Mythili[Mythili 2017], “US environmental chief Scott Pruitt has said that now is not the time for discussion about climate change, even amid record-breaking hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Katia. "To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced," Mr Pruitt told CNN.

 

"To discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there's the... place (and time) to do that, it's not now." He said the focus should be on getting the people of Florida clean water, fuel, and cleaning up Superfund sites.

 

The agency's Superfund programme is responsible for cleaning the country's most contaminated areas and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters. However, when the Associated Press visited a Superfund site in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, no staff were there for cleanup. The EPA said the sites were inaccessible to its response team and issued a press release attacking the Associated Press reporter who wrote the story.

 

Critics panned Donald Trump for the former Oklahoma politician's appointment given his many lawsuits against the agency he now leads as well as his belief that human action does not necessarily cause climate change. Mr Pruitt held the administration's stance that the Paris Agreement on climate change, signed by nearly 200 countries in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions and contain global warming, was not in the best economic interests of the American worker despite evidence of growing renewable energy markets in the country.

 

Mr Trump, who has begun the withdrawal process for the US to leave the agreement, once called climate change a "hoax" perpetuated by the Chinese. In the meantime, Hurricane Irma continues its course and will likely cause flooding and massive damage in low lying areas of Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott has warned that Hurricane Irma "is wider than our entire state and is expected to cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast". The state is approximately 360 miles (580 km) wide.

 

Winds are expected to reach up to 155 mph (250 kmh). The hurricane, a Category 4, has already devastated Caribbean islands like Barbuda and left more than a million people without power in Puerto Rico. The death toll has reached 19.

 

According to Santini [Santini  2017],”The rapid-fire formation of four unusually potent Atlantic hurricanes, including Harvey and Irma, has stoked scientific debate over what role global warming is playing in this phenomenon.First came Harvey, which unleashed massive floods in Texas, then three devastating hurricanes roared across the Atlantic simultaneously -- Irma, Katia and Jose.

 

"Currently we have three Atlantic hurricanes with 90-plus mile per hour winds -- only the fourth time on record in Atlantic this has occurred," Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, said on Twitter. The last time three hurricanes were active at once was 2010, when hurricanes Igor, Julia and Karl were classified as hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

 

Hurricane Irma, now taking aim at Florida, has stunned experts with its sheer size and strength, churning across the ocean with sustained Category 5 winds of 183 miles per hour (295 kilometers per hour) for more than 33 hours, making it the longest-lasting, top-intensity cyclone ever recorded.

 

Meanwhile Jose, a Category 4 on the Saffir Simpson scale of 1 to 5, is fast on the heels of Irma, pummeling the Caribbean for the second time in the span of a few days.Many have wondered what is contributing to the power and frequency of these extreme storms. "Atlantic hurricane seasons over the years have been shaped by many complex factors," said Jim Kossin, a NOAA hurricane scientist at the University of Wisconsin. "Those include large scale ocean currents, air pollution -- which tends to cool the ocean down -- and climate change."

 

For Gabriel Vecchi, professor of geosciences at Princeton University's Environmental Institute, the surge in cyclones is evidence of an "active era" for storms in the Atlantic since the mid 1990s, even if not every year saw strong storms. A period of relative calm for hurricanes, stretching from 2013 to 2016, can be explained by the presence of the equatorial Pacific warming trend, El Nino, which produces wind shear that tends to discourage the formation of hurricanes. There was also little hurricane activity in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

 

"There is still a lot of debate in the scientific community," over what causes this shift between calm and tumultuous times for storms, Vecchi said. Some think a surge in industrial pollution after World War II may have produced more pollutant particles that blocked the Sun's energy and exerted a cooling effect on the oceans. "The pollution reduced a lot of hurricane activity," he told AFP.

 

Pollution began to wane in the 1980s due to regulations such as the Clean Air Act, allowing more of the Sun's rays to penetrate the ocean and provide warming fuel for storms. Vecchi said the "big debate" among scientists is over which plays a larger role -- variations in ocean currents or pollution cuts. There is evidence for both, but there isn't enough data to answer a key question.

 

"We don't know how long the cycle may last," Vecchi said. "We have a lack of historical perspective." The burning of fossil fuels, which spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and warm the Earth, can also be linked to a rise in extreme storms in recent years. Warmer ocean temperatures yield more moisture, more rainfall, and greater intensity storms.

 

"It is not a coincidence that we're seeing more devastating hurricanes," climatologist Michael Mann of Penn State University told AFP in an email. "Over the past few years, as global sea surface temperatures have been the warmest on record, we've seen the strongest hurricanes -- as measured by peak sustained winds -- globally, in both Southern and Northern Hemisphere, in both Pacific and now, with Irma, the open Atlantic," he added. "The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We're seeing them play out in real time, and the past two weeks have been a sadly vivid example."

 

According to Christopher [Christopher 2017], “As Irma approaches the U.S. and Jose spins in the Atlantic, many are wondering what hurricanes' connection to climate change might be. It's unusual, very unusual - not unprecedented. There have been occasions in the past in the Atlantic and the Pacific, where there have been two or three hurricanes swirling around somewhere. What makes them particularly noticeable, of course, is that they're hitting land. Often, these happen, but nobody knows because they never hit land….

 

We have to remember that, though, of course, there have always been hurricanes, and there would be without climate change. But what the computer models that climate scientists use - what they tell us is that bigger storms are going to get bigger. Not necessarily more - there will be more of them, but they'll get bigger. And the reason for this is heat. Heat drives storms. The more heat you have, the bigger storms you have. What happens is hot water creates water vapor. You know, a cup of coffee - it's got vapor coming off it.

 

So the water vapor rises. You get convection. It creates these circulating winds. And that's what creates the conditions for a hurricane. And what's happened is that, you know, hurricanes feed off of this fuel. And the hotter the oceans, the more fuel you'll get for the hurricane…..This summer, the Atlantic Ocean, where the hurricanes form, was close to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the normal. And that may not seem like a lot.

 

But you're talking about tens of thousands of square miles, 150 feet deep. That's a lot of heat. We saw a similar situation in 2005 when Katrina hit in 2010 - a very warm ocean and lots of hurricanes. And we should note that it's not just power you get from the heat. More water vapor means more rain. And that's what happened with Harvey. A warmer atmosphere holds more rain. More of it comes out of the hotter ocean. So that's what happened with Harvey…”

 

According to Kaileen [Kaileen 2017],”Hurricane Irma is so strong that it is sucked water into itself and away from shorelines in the Bahamas. Video footage from Long Island, Bahamas shows a dry ocean floor after Hurricane Irma hit on Friday. A meteorologist explained low pressure in the center of the storm caused the water to be drawn upwards into itself and away from the beach. The water will not rush back like a tsunami and the shore will likely be back to normal Sunday afternoon.”

 

According to Kevin [Kevin 2017],” A Media Matters analysis of Hurricane Harvey broadcast coverage from August 23 to September 7 found that neither ABC nor NBC aired a single segment on their morning, evening, or Sunday news shows that mentioned the link between climate change and hurricanes like Harvey, while CBS and PBS NewsHour each aired three. A review of prime-time coverage of Harvey on the three major cable news networks found that Fox aired six segments that mentioned climate change, but most of them dismissed the link between climate change and hurricanes, while CNN and MSNBC each aired five segments that legitimately discussed the link…..Hurricane Harvey set new records for rainfall and economic destruction.


After making landfall on August 25, Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain and earned the distinction of being the most extreme rain event in U.S. history. Estimates of Harvey’s costs range from $81 billion to up to $190 billion, the uppermost of which would make it the nation’s costliest natural disaster. Scientists say climate change worsened Harvey’s impacts. A number of climate scientists have stated that climate change exacerbated the worst impacts of Hurricane Harvey, as warm ocean water fueled the storm’s intensity. Climate scientists have also said that climate change may have been responsible for Harvey stalling over Texas, which was a major factor in its record rainfall. Texas Monthly reported:…….

 

In a mere 48 hours, Harvey went from a middling tropical storm, with winds of 45 miles per hour, to a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 130 miles per hour. When it hit land, it dumped close to 50 inches of rain on Texas, which makes it the biggest rain storm in U.S. history. “There are many explanations for Harvey’s rampage,” Dr. Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M in College Station, said. “But human induced climate change definitely made the storm worse.”

 

Few bodies of water have heated up like the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, when a tropical storm passes over the Gulf, those warm waters become pure fuel for that storm to tap. What’s more, because the temperatures in the atmosphere over the Gulf are also warmer, more ocean water is evaporating and hanging in the air, just waiting to be swept up by a storm and dumped over land as rain.

 

We’re not saying that climate change is creating more tropical storms or hurricanes,” said Dr. Daniel Cohan, an atmospheric scientist and professor of environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston. “But what’s becoming clear is that once these storms form, they are likely to become much more intense.” Cohan noted that in the past three years, Houston has been hit by three so-called “500-year storms.” “The chances of that happening by coincidence are just about zero,” he concluded.

 

Cohan even speculated that global warming was the reason Harvey stalled over southeast Texas. “We know that with climate change, as the world gets warmer, the jet streams are now moving away from tropics and moving closer to the poles,” he explained. “What happened in Harvey’s case is that the jet stream wasn’t out there to push the storm along. It had moved north. I think for that very reason we’ll see more of these hurricanes stall over land, which means more devastating monster rains.” [Texas Monthly, 9/5/17; The Guardian, 8/28/17; The Atlantic, 8/27/17]

 

According to Chris,[Chris 2017],” Climate change denials amid catastrophic hurricanes are a reminder that humans are not a particularly smart species, Pope Francis said Sunday while flying over areas in the Caribbean decimated by Hurricane Irma. “Man is stupid,” he said, referencing a passage in the Old Testament, according to the The New York Times and The Associated Press. “When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.” A correspondent for Crux Now had a slightly different translation of the pontiff’s comments: “Man is a stupid and hard-headed being who doesn’t see.” The pope — who has sparred with President Donald Trump on several issues, including climate change — also urged the climate skeptics of the world to consult with a scientist.

 

“Those who deny climate change need to go to scientists and ask them,” Francis said, according to Crux. He said the scientific community has been “clear and precise” in linking human activities to the ongoing crisis and that “each [person] has a moral responsibility, bigger or smaller.” Climate change is a “serious matter over which we cannot make jokes,” he said. Pope Francis’ comments came during a flight from Colombia to Rome, which passed over areas of the Caribbean left devastated by Hurricane Irma. According to Crux, journalists asked the pope about the moral responsibility world political leaders have to fight against climate change.

 

Francis warned that “history will judge those decisions,” and that if humans fail to curb climate change we “will go down,” according to reports. When Trump met with Francis in May, the pope gave the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical on climate change and the environment, “Laudato Si.” In the 184-page document, Francis argues that climate change is inherently a moral and spiritual issue and criticizes local and national governments that refuse to address it. Since taking office, Trump, a longtime climate change skeptic who has dismissed it as “bullshit” and a Chinese hoax, has worked swiftly to derail America’s actions to combat the threat.

 

In June, Trump announced he will pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which nearly 200 countries committed to slashing carbon emissions. Climate scientists say powerful back-to-back hurricanes Harvey and Irma — which battered the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean and the U.S. Southeast over the last two weeks — were made worse by climate change. The Trump administration, however, has said now is not the time to discuss the role climate change played in the extreme weather events. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm, versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced,” Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, told CNN last week in an interview about Hurricane Irma.

 

According to Irma Holly [Holy 2017],” The wind began to blow, and it seemed as if it would never stop blowing — ferocious gusts that howled through the thick, shatterproof glass windows and, at their worst, sent trembles through the reinforced concrete building that had been designed by engineers who years ago could only imagine the ruthlessness of Mother Nature and her storms. When guests at the Fairfield Inn and Suites near the Miami International Airport, a few miles from the city’s center, went to bed on Saturday night, Hurricane Irma was swirling hundreds of miles away, taking aim toward the Florida Keys and the state’s western coast.

 

Miami, initially forecasted to take a direct hit from the projected Category 5 storm, was to be spared the brunt of Irma’s fury, meteorologists said. And aside from being hit by strong winds and rain from feederbands on the outskirts of the storm, South Florida had dodged a bullet. That’s what the forecast said. But as advanced as science and weather prediction has become in this modern era, in which some radars employed in places like Oklahoma’s Tornado Alley can often show a storm’s path right down to the crack in a sidewalk, Mother Nature is never completely predictable. And on Sunday morning, people here woke up to the wail of winds that could blow you down in an instant and driving horizontal rain that pierced you like little needles if you dared step outside…..

 

But there was a strange sense of calm in the lobby. Families, including many local residents who had come to the hotel for shelter, sat playing board games and eating breakfast. Many of them didn’t speak English. Every so often, they would gather at the window, staring out at the storm, marveling at what Mother Nature could do. They looked at their phones, trying to glean whatever news they could about what had happened to their homes. The televisions had stopped working just as Irma had made landfall along the Keys, and the hotel Wi-Fi, zapped by the power surges, was down. Some guests had radios, but soon those weren’t working either, as stations, one by one, were felled by the storm. As the wind howled outside, a man ran up to a pair of reporters.

 

“Is it true that Key West was completely wiped off the map? Someone is saying you can’t even see it on satellite images anymore,” he said. He had tried to load a news story on his phone, but his service, along with everyone else’s, was barely working. It was hard to know what was happening beyond the scene of fury outside the glass windows. Just before the power went out for good, the television flickered on quickly enough to show a meteorologist suggesting the worst of the storm would soon be over. It was shortly after noon. But that didn’t happen. For hours, the wind blew harder and harder. Just when it seemed it wouldn’t get worse, it did. The pounding rain soon turned the road outside into a river that was about a foot and a half deep.

 

Water began to seep through the windows, and hotel employees quickly scrambled to place sandbags near the front door, where water was pooling. The lights went out in the stairwells, and guests used their cellphones to light the way, until those died too. A boy with a lantern flashlight sat in the lobby, providing light. “You should rent that out to people who need to go to the bathroom,” his father told him. “We could make some money.” For hours, the wind howled and the hotel creaked. Spotty cell service revealed streets in some parts of downtown Miami had been transformed into rivers, that the water had been sucked out of bays in Tampa and other cites along Florida’s western coast, where Irma was taking aim next. If Miami had only gotten a sliver of her wrath, what would be the fate of those directly in her path?As daylight dimmed, the wind finally began to slow.” Natural disasters come and go but climate change increases their intensities.

 

The ugly side of human nature is to start looting during catastrophes. What a difference between human and animals which start eating the struck pigs and cattle in jungles. According to Zach [Zach 2017], “Miami area police arrested more than 50 suspected looters during Hurricane Irma, including 26 people who were accused of breaking into a single Wal-Mart (WMT.N> store, authorities said on Tuesday. Among others suspected of looting were six men arrested on Monday and accused of breaking into stores at the Midtown Miami shopping complex, near the fashionable Wynwood district, before making off with merchandise that included shoes, bags and laptops.”

 

 

References

National Climate Data Center, Morgan Stanley Research, 28 August 2017

 

Emily WT, Alex H, Amy BW, Houston dam spills over for the first time in history, overwhelmed by Harvey rainfall, The Washington Post, 29 August 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/08/28/houston-releases-water-from-two-dams-in-attempt-to-prevent-uncontrolled-overflow/?utm_term=.941ae1d2119c

 

Sethy B, Scientists say warming makes storms, like Harvey, wetter, ABC News,  Aug 29, 2017,http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/scientists-climate-change-storms-harvey-49483362

 

Alissa W, Hurricane Harvey is showing us the future of climate change, CURBED, 29 August 2017

https://www.curbed.com/2017/8/29/16216176/hurricane-harvey-houston-flooding-climate-change

 

Emily C, Climate change likely helped fuel Harvey's strength, CBC News, Technology & Science, 29 August 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/hurricane-harvey-climate-change-1.4265636

 

IIan K, Don’t blame climate change for the Hurricane Harvey disaster –Blame Society, The Conversation, 29 August 2017, http://theconversation.com/dont-blame-climate-change-for-the-hurricane-harvey-disaster-blame-society-83163

 

Chris I, Harvey certain to be one of the most expensive natural disasters ever, CNN, 30 August 2017, http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/30/news/economy/harvey-cost-most-expensive-disasters/index.html

Ciara L, Hurricane Harvey could cost $190 billion, be worst-ever U.S. natural disaster, says AccuWeather, Market Watch, 2 September 2017, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hurricane-harvey-could-cost-190-billion-be-worst-ever-us-natural-disaster-says-accuweather-2017-08-31

Vanessa S, Hurricane Harvey and Climate Change, FactCkeck.Org, 30 August 2017, http://www.factcheck.org/2017/08/hurricane-harvey-climate-change/

Christopher I, Houston is experiencing its third ‘500-year’ flood in 3 years. How is that possible?, The Washington Post, 29 August 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/29/houston-is-experiencing-its-third-500-year-flood-in-3-years-how-is-that-possible/?utm_term=.32c8cfdc3ecb

 

Robert M, Simon E, Media reaction: Hurricane Harvey and climate change, CarbonBrief.Org, 29 August 2017, https://www.carbonbrief.org/media-reaction-hurricane-harvey-climate-change

Erwin WL, Five Lessons Hurricane Harvey Teaches Us, MoodyMedia, 27 August 2017

https://www.moodymedia.org/blog/2017/08/five-lessons-hurricane-harvey-teaches-us/

 

Kimberly W, Where are the condemnations of Harvey as God’s punishment?, RAS, 29 August 2017,

http://religionnews.com/2017/08/29/where-are-the-condemnations-of-harvey-as-gods-punishment/

 

Pastor KS, Pastor claims Hurricane Harvey was God’s punishment for Texas failure to pass anti-LGBT law, Pink News, 31 August 2017, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/08/31/pastor-claims-hurricane-harvey-was-gods-punishment-for-texas-failure-to-pass-anti-lgbt-law/

Kathleen P, Column: Harvey wasn’t a curse but a warning, The Times News, 3 September 2017, http://www.thetimesnews.com/opinion/20170903/column-harvey-wasnt-curse-but-warning

Sophie H, ANALYSIS-Washington urged to heed Harvey climate warning, Thomson Reuters Foundation

30 August 2017, http://news.trust.org/item/20170829170505-e735p/

 

Ashley S, Brandon M, Did climate change impact Hurricane Harvey? CNN, 28 August 2017

http://www.edition.cnn.com/2017/08/28/us/hurricane-harvey-climate-change/index.html

 

Doyle R, Hurricane Harvey and climate change: Is there a connection?, USA TODAY, 29 August 2017 |

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/science/2017/08/29/hurricane-harvey-and-climate-change-there-connection/609046001/

Robinson M, Did Climate Change Intensify Hurricane Harvey?, The Atlantic, 27 August 2017https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/08/did-climate-change-intensify-hurricane-harvey/538158/

 

Andrew K, Opinion: How much is climate change behind the Hurricane Harvey flooding in Houston? Market Watch, 29 Augus 2017 http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-much-is-climate-change-behind-the-hurricane-harvey-flooding-in-houston-2017-08-28

Matt M, Hurricane Harvey: The link to climate change, BBC, 29 August 2017 http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-41082668

Oliver M, Conservative groups shrug off link between tropical storm Harvey and climate change, The Guardian, 30 August 2017https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/30/tropical-storm-harvey-climate-change-conservatives-donald-trump

 

Dominique M, Trump’s Pick To Head NASA Doesn’t Believe Humans Cause Climate Change, ,HuffPost, 5 September 2017.

Joe R, Pruitt slams scientists for talking about ‘cause and effect’ of Harvey, Irma, ThinkProgress, 8 September 2017 https://thinkprogress.org/pruitt-wont-talk-climate-change-ff5a861ca456/?hl=1&noRedirect=1

Mythili S Trump's EPA head Scott Pruitt on Irma: Now is not the time to talk about climate change,TheIndependen, 8 September 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-apos-epa-head-scott-001111096.html

Santini J-L, Series of potent hurricanes stokes scientific debate, AFP, 9 September 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/series-potent-hurricanes-stokes-scientific-debate-155405459.html

Christopher J, How Climate Change Exacerbates Hurricanes, NPR.Org, 5 September 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/83c749dc-04d5-3503-8817-e279c360f11f/ss_how-climate-change.html

Kaileen G, 'The ocean is missing!' Rare phenomenon caused by Irma sucks the water from Bahamas beaches, Daily Mail, 10 September 2017,http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4869268/Rare-phenomenon-sucks-water-Bahamas-beach.html#ixzz4sITg2MZ8

Kevin K, STUDY: ABC and NBC drop the ball on covering the impact of climate change on hurricanes, MediaMatters.Org, 8 September 2017https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/09/08/STUDY-ABC-and-NBC-drop-the-ball-on-covering-the-impact-of-climate-change-on-hurricanes/217881

Chris D’A, Pope Francis On Climate Change Denial: 'Man Is Stupid', HuffPost, September 12, 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/pope-francis-climate-change-denial-223108285.html

Holly B, At Miami airport hotel, Hurricane Irma demonstrates the fury of nature, National Correspondent, Yahoo News, September 11, 2017 https://www.yahoo.com/news/miami-airport-hotel-hurricane-irma-demonstrates-fury-nature-114926060.html

 

Zach F, More than 50 arrested for looting in Miami during Irma: police, Yahoo. News,  13 September 2017, https://www.yahoo.com/news/more-50-arrested-looting-miami-during-irma-police-041456670.html


Source:Ocnus.net 2017

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