The headline in the British newspaper The Guardian blared in June: “Houston fears climate change will cause catastrophic flooding: ‘It’s not if, it’s when.’”
For those readers who consider man-made climate change a liberal plot and are unimpressed by disappearing ice, rising tides and radically changing climates around the planet, this sobering prediction should force a rethink.
To be sure, significant rains have always been a part of the Houston experience. And flooding has been made worse by the city’s flat landscape, over-developed neighborhoods and under-preparedness for floods. But as the article says, “What bothers local environmentalists is the extent to which human activity is making things worse.”
“There is little hope the situation is going to get better any time soon.” the article said. “After Donald Trump announced the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change, a new report warned that rare U.S. floods will become the norm if emissions are not cut.”
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In a prescient prognostication, The Guardian also noted, “there are predictions worthy of a disaster movie for what could happen if a powerful hurricane barrels directly into Houston’s industrial east.” One expert quoted in the article said, “If we get 20 feet or more of water up the Houston Ship Channel, it will be apocalyptic.”
That was then. What does The Guardian say now that the worst-case scenario has come true? On Monday, it published a subsequent piece with the headline: “It’s a fact: Climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly.”
Said the article: “Sea level rise attributable to climate change…is more than half a foot over the past few decades. That means the storm surge was half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction.”
It continued, “Sea surface temperatures in the region have risen…over the past few decades, which contributed to the very warm sea surface temperatures.” Furthermore, the Guardian concluded, “Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming, which means stronger winds and a larger storm surge.”
Admittedly, I am not a scientist or expert who can make all the cases for the terrible impact man-made climate change is having on our planet. And I recognize that a handful of scientists with terrific credentials can make all the arguments about why climate change caused by man is not a major factor. Too many Americans share the notion that this is all made up, despite overwhelming evidence that it is true.
If you don’t believe what experts say in The Guardian, despite its recent undeniably accurate forecasting, consider what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has to say: “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent of actively publishing scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”
It may be the greatest mistake in human history to ignore what overwhelmingly appears to be fact. We are messing with our planet and causing irreversible damage to its climate. Harvey is but the most recent example, but it is also the most devastating. To label this a “hoax,” as Trump has done, may be the single most dangerous, misguided judgment of any president in the nation’s nearly 250 years of existence.