New-York City, 2012. Photo by my favourite photographer Yosra El-essawy
Recently, a storm by the name of Sandy wreaked havoc with devastating winds, record flooding, heavy snowfall and mass blackouts. Sandy wiped out homes along the New Jersey shore, submerged parts of New York City, and dumped snow as far south as the Carolinas. At least 50 people were reported killed in the United States, on top of 69 in the Caribbean (Jamaica and Haiti worst affected), while millions of people were left without power (numbers are still rising day by day). My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.
Sandy, New-York, 2012.
I wrote this post a week ago but decided to wait before posting in-order to allow us all more time to come to terms with the impact off this event. I have been astonished at the lack of climate change debate following this hurricane. I guess I always thought “they will get it when the effects of climate change and/or global warming hit a major western city”. I quote myself here. What’s more concerning is that fact that some scientists say that the key to Sandy’s impact may be an extremely rare clash of weather systems, rather than the warmer temperatures that scientists have identified in other hurricanes and storms.
“It’s a hybrid storm, which combines some features of tropical hurricanes with some features of winter storms, that operate on quite different mechanisms,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of Atmospheric Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Although Emanuel said that there is a clear link between climate change and general trends toward more intense tropical hurricanes, in the case of Sandy more long-term study is required to determine whether climate change played a major role. I mean, MORE long-term study? how much longer do we need to study this for? are we waiting on three more Sandy’s or 10? when does it become a fact that is taken just as seriously as “the war on terror”?
Sandy, Haiti, 2012.
Most scientists agree that climate change “likely” aggravated the “unique” circumstances that produced Sandy. They go so far as to “include” global warming as “contributing” by causing ocean temperatures and sea levels to rise.
“Sea level rise makes storm surges worse and will continue to do so in the future,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany. He is also quoted saying that a record thaw of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in September also might have helped build up high pressure in the North Atlantic that drove Sandy westward.
“I would be very cautious,” he said. “But there is reason to suspect that there could be a connection between the record sea ice loss this summer and the path of this storm.”
The question is why does he have to be cautious? Records show world sea levels have risen by 20 centimetres (8 inches) in the past 100 years, a trend blamed on melting ice and expanding water in the oceans caused by rising temperatures.
Importantly, scientists also note that world temperatures in September this year parallel those in 2005, the year hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, as the warmest in modern records, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Is this not evidence enough off the impacts of global warming?
Sandy, Jamaica, 2012.
The climate change debate has been going on long enough. Yes, we know that the climate was more benign 15 million years ago than it is now. And, yes, very little ice was at the poles with higher sea levels. It was like this 15 million years ago due to the high atmospheric C02 levels at approximately 400 parts per million (ppm) and warmer temperatures. It was those conditions that allowed plants to grow, reducing CO2 levels to 280ppm to just before the industrial revolution and allowed us humans to spread all over the earth. However, post the industrial revolution, seven billion humans burning fossil fuels has increased the C02 levels to 380ppm today. If we don’t take responsibility for this, it is predicted to increase to 600ppm or more in the next century. Ultimately creating atmospheric conditions not seen for more than 50 million years.
Take a moment and really sit with the information above. Hopefully, common sense will tell you that this kind of rapid change to our climate would all but destroy our homes, food production capabilities, populations dynamics and ultimately lead to the collapse of civilisation as we know it. It’s either we re-adapt to storms/hurricanes/drought/famine or begin to think about taking action to drastically reduce C02 levels and/or adapt our way of living to these new weather conditions. Seriously.
This is already happening.
FACT– Warmer temperatures mean that the atmosphere can hold more moisture, bringing more rain in many areas. A U.N. report this year predicted that a higher proportion of the world’s rain would fall in downpours during the 21st century, making floods more likely.
FACT– The latest research suggests that a warming climate will lead to more extreme weather events such as flooding rains and drought. Michael Rawlins,Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts ,Amherst.
FACT– Recent research indicates that greenhouse gases have raised the chances of some events, such as the Texas heatwave of 2011 or a European heatwave in 2003 that killed approximately 70,000 people.
FACT– If all the words above don’t convince you, have a look at the video below shot by Malin Fezehai called Vanishing Nation about the Island nations in the South Pacific.
Vanishing Nation from Malin Fezehai on Vimeo.
As individuals we CAN do something, we can make sure we vote for the right political parties, the ones that have a clear agenda for reducing C02 levels and/or tackling climate change. For example, this article in the Guardian journals an interesting perspective. We can work at reducing our own carbon footprint bit by bit by switching to more energy efficient systems. Every little bit counts, especially those of us in countries that are producing the most C02 as the truth of the matter is It is more our responsibility.
I have purposely not inserted any links within this post to any specific research. There are thousands of articles on-line detailing research both for and against the climate change theory. This is my personal opinion. Let me know what you think? Do you agree or disagree, it always makes for an interesting debate.
Click play whilst you think it over, please think it over.
Thank you for reading and please the knowledge.