There’s a lot we don’t know about hurricanes, and a helluva lot we don’t know about how climate change is going to affect them.
Will they happen more or less often? There’s no scientific consensus, we just don’t really know. When they do happen — will they be stronger or weaker on average? A consensus has emerged that they’ll get stronger, more cat4 and cat5 hurricanes compared to cat1 and cat2. Will we see a whole new class, the fierce cat6? Just speculation.
But there’s one thing we can put in the “fer-sure” category, and that’s this: hot ocean water superpowers hurricanes. Talk to the National Hurricane Center. Talk to Kerry Emanuel at MIT.
It happened to hurricane Michael, increasing its wind speed by 45mph in just 24 hours as it passed over gulf waters, where an extra “few” degrees turns out to be a helluva big deal. That’s “rapid intensification” according to the National Hurricane Center. It happened to hurricanes Harvey and Irma and Florence. It happened to Maria, wind speeds increasing 80mph in a 24-hour period before killing thousands while flattening Puerto Rico.
It’s simple, really. Global Warming ==> higher ocean temperatures ==> more “rapid intensification”. Both theory and observations agree. Accept the truth.
Michael is the proof we needed because it has finally dawned on people that the chain of reasoning is correct. Alas, to get here we had to endure not just Michael, but Harvey and Irma and Maria and Florence. And heat waves this summer all over the world, sending 20,000 Japanese to hospitals while raising death rates enough to overflow the morgue in Montreal. And “fire tornados” raging through Redding, California, with fires out of control throughout the U.S. west, in Greece, even Sweden, inside the Arctic Circle no less. How many homes, businesses, how much property and critical infrastructure destroyed? How many millions without power for days, weeks, even months? How many people left destitute? How many injured, how many dead?
We have to accept the truth, or we can’t prepare for what’s to come. How do we prepare? I only know step one: replace the politicians who won’t accept the truth.
Because what’s at stake isn’t polar bears or French champagne or the sea ice. It’s homes and businesses and property and infrastructure and power and destitution and injury and death.
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