The awful scenes in Florida this week are yet another reminder that the more damage we do to the earth, the more damage it does to us. While global warming is not directly responsible for Hurricane Michael, the science on this is now clear: the severity of the storm most certainly is.
As National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate and hurricane expert Jim Kossin told ABC News, rising water temperatures played a huge part in the awesome ferocity of the storm that got 55% stronger in a space of 24 hours:
Another huge factor was the water temperature. Warm water is the energy that fuels hurricanes, and the Gulf water is 4 to 5 degrees warmer than normal.
Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico vary along with weather, but some scientists said the warm waters are signs of human-caused climate change.
"Have humans contributed to how dangerous Michael is?" Kossin said. "Now we can look at how warm the waters are and that certainly has contributed to how intense Michael is and its intensification."
The warm waters, Kossin said, are a "human fingerprint" of climate change.
Kossin and others have a study out this month in the Journal of Climate with computer simulations showing that human-caused global warming will increase rapid intensification of tropical weather across the globe in the future.
It is interesting that ABC states that only "some scientists" said that the unusually warm waters are "signs of human-caused climate change". This is categorically not the case, and ABC should know better than this. 97% of scientists believe that the planet is heating up (and that includes the oceans) due to human activity. That is virtually all scientists who believe rapidly warming waters are a sign of human activity.
“There is strong consensus among scientists who study hurricanes and climate that warming temperatures should make more intense hurricanes possible,” hurricane expert at M.I.T. Kerry Emanuel told Nicholas Kristoff at The New York Times.
The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, however, does not believe this. A rabid climate change denier, Scott has refused to take the science seriously despite the fact that his home state could, according to serious climate change data, be wiped off the map within a century. Not only that, Miami is already pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the city to mitigate flood damage caused by rising sea levels.
As the UN panel on climate change reported this week, if we are to have any hope of preventing our own destruction, we need to transform the global economy within the next 10 years. Humans must shift from a carbon based economy to a regenerative one or face the consequences of an increasingly destructive planet that will become uninhabitable for hundreds of millions of people. This in turn will create huge refugee crises (that are already happening) further exacerbating ethnic tensions and pressure on resources.
The US military has already warned of these mounting problems, stating climate change 'will create world's biggest refugee crisis'.
You can donate to help the people of Florida at the Red Cross here.