Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Climate change is real and is already happening

The rapid succession of three major hurricanes is clear evidence that it is time to acknowledge the realities of climate change.
An estimated 50 people have died due to Hurricane Harvey. On top of that, nearly a million have been displaced from their homes, and close to 200,000 homes have been destroyed. It is estimated that the damages add up to nearly $180 billion.
Homes and businesses were left without power, and Harvey victims are still trying to make it through the aftermath.
The damages for hurricanes Irma and Maria are not any better. Hurricane Irma was a category 5 hurricane for 5 days, which is a record for the longest category 5 hurricane. There were a total of 132 fatalities during the hurricane, and like Harvey, people were left without their homes, power, and basic necessities. In Puerto Rico, 40 people have died, and there is no way to get power or communication due to the effects of Hurricane Maria.
The Trump administration is not doing nearly as much as it should to help the hurricane victims, specifically the victims of Hurricane Maria, and it is not addressing the elephant in the room: climate change.
Storms like these last three should not be ignored. Though they may not have been directly caused by climate change, these storms and fires have definitely been made worse due to the effects of global warming.
Hurricanes thrive in warm water, and though they become weaker once they reach land, Harvey did the exact opposite. According to Kerry Emanuel, and atmospheric sciences professor at MIT, wind speeds rise rapidly in warmer conditions, thus causing Harvey to be such a violent storm.
Furthermore, ocean sea surface temperatures have risen. According to the EPA, “sea surface temperature increased during the 20th century and continues to rise [at] an average rate of 0.13 °F per decade.
While that may not seem very severe, the effects of these rising temperatures certainly are.
With rising ocean temperature comes rising sea levels, which are another effect of man-made global warming. Fossil fuel emissions have been trapped in the atmosphere, and as a result, the Earth’s temperature is warmer.
Warmer weather is causing large ice formations to melt and continue to raise the sea level. National Geographic reports, because water expands when it heats up, warmer ocean temperature causes the sea level to rise as well.
Despite there being constant new information about human effects on global warming, and now, three back-to-back, major, traumatic hurricanes, the Trump administration just does not seem to believe it.
About eight months ago, President Trump excluded the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, which is essentially a “pact” with multiple nations promising to combat climate change.
By stepping out of this agreement, to the dismay of 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, the President showed that climate change does not matter to him.
In their open letter, the members of the National Academy of Sciences urgently explained not only that “human-caused climate change. . . is a reality,” but also that by stepping out of the agreement, President Trump showcased how little he cared about climate change as a global issue.
More recently, the President’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has planned to get rid of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a regulation put in place by Obama that, according to the Union of Concerned Sciences, “establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions.”
By getting rid of this plan, the Trump administration is reiterating its message from the Paris Agreement: climate change is not worth the time.
While the president called for a review of the CPP in March, news of plans of withdrawal are fairly recent.
It is shocking and incredibly disappointing that after witnessing the devastation of three major hurricanes, the administration still doesn’t seem to understand how much an issue man-made climate change.
Climate change is real, and the evidence is in front of our eyes. There is no hoax, no rumor, no ulterior motive. There are millions of people displaced from their homes who have lived the reality that the Trump administration is trying so hard to deny. Issues of climate change and human livelihood should not be collateral damage for the sake of politics.
It’s time to face the facts.

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Climate change is real and is already happening