We are an odd species. With highly advanced technology that can monitor weather patterns, analyze complex climate change data and make stunningly accurate predictions, we are still pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere faster than we ever have in history. Reported the Washington Post last month:
In September 2016, the time of year when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are usually at their lowest, scientists observed that the monthly average concentration still remained above this threshold. And now, the new NOAA measurements further indicate that carbon dioxide levels are only continuing to grow — and they’re rising at breakneck speed.
The gas and oil companies are still in business because we still subsidize them, and despite all the evidence pointing to the catastrophic consequences of CO2 pollution, onwards we march into assured disaster at some point in the near future. Not only that, millions of Americans -- responsible for releasing much of that CO2 -- are convinced man made climate change is not real. As extreme weather events increase dramatically, destroying towns, coastline, and now entire cities, right wing media outlets are still busy pretending climate change has nothing to do with it (just see Breitbart's coverage of Hurricane Harvey -- and no, we're not linking to them).
With roughly 19 trillion tons of water hitting Texas over five days, Hurricane Harvey is by far the worst flooding event ever in the continental U.S. It has created a truly breathtaking level of carnage and destruction, leaving millions of people displaced and hundreds of billions of dollars of damage. The link with global warming is clear -- as temperatures rise, extreme weather events become more frequent and more intense. Climate change skeptics are claiming it is simply a "natural event" that would have occurred without man pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, but this is simply not the case. As Rolling Stone reported:
First, thanks to increasing carbon pollution, the waters in the Gulf of Mexico, over which Harvey formed, were about five degrees higher than average. "As the world warms, evaporation speeds up," explained climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe. So on average, there is more water vapor in the air now to sweep up and later dump over land. Also, because hurricane winds are generated by the difference in temperature between the atmosphere and oceans, the warmer waters tend to intensify a hurricane's gales.
Second, a warming climate fuels sea-level rise, which is the result of the thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of glaciers. Higher seas mean bigger storm surges, which can be devastating (recall the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy). But when the seas are higher, it also means that it is more difficult to drain rainwater into the ocean. And that is what happened in Houston: The water had nowhere to go.
Our scientists are telling us unequivocally that we will be seeing more storms, more hurricanes with more frequency and more severity. They are telling us that we are responsible for this -- our destructive actions are essentially creating a feedback mechanism of equal destruction. The more we pollute, the more the earth's bio systems hit back, desperately attempting to create the balance and harmony eco systems need to thrive. We reap what we sow, but still cannot seem to accept what we are sowing.
As global warming speeds up, so too will its consequences. We are seeing that live on television almost every day. Severe flooding has killed 1,200 people in South East Asia this summer alone, and government agencies are warning of the catastrophic consequences of continued global warming in the coming years. More floods, more storms, more disaster.
To deny global warming now is to be complicit in the destruction of not only the planet, but of human life too. To support the oil and gas industry is to be complicit in this destruction, and to support politicians who do all of the above is tantamount an act of treason against your own species. This must stop, and stop now.
Houston is drowning today, but it could be your city next.
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