Lakes Student Media

After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

Devastating+flooding+after+Hurricane+Harvey.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

Devastating flooding after Hurricane Harvey.

Devastating flooding after Hurricane Harvey.

Photo by Boaz Guttman

Devastating flooding after Hurricane Harvey.

Photo by Boaz Guttman

Photo by Boaz Guttman

Devastating flooding after Hurricane Harvey.

Colin McElduff, News Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






This hurricane season has been one for the records. Hurricane Irma, a massive Category 5 storm that wrecked the Caribbean, has become the longest-lasting powerful storm, ever. Damages from Harvey and the subsequent catastrophic flooding in Southeast Texas are expected alone to cost up to $190 billion dollars. Meanwhile, Hurricanes Maria and Jose continue to plague the Eastern seaboard and desolate the Caribbean islands. In the wake of these storms, is it reasonable to ask if climate change caused them? In short, no.

“Climate change does not cause things, because climate change is not a causal agent. “Climate change” is a descriptive term — it describes the fact that the climate is changing. What’s causing the changes is an increase in heat energy trapped in the atmosphere, due to greenhouse gases,” said David Roberts, a reporter for Vox.

Rising global temperatures do contribute to the formation of hurricanes, but are not the primary cause of any of them. Heat energy is essential to the development of a tropical depression, and as the oceans continually become warmer more destructive storms are more likely to generate. However, this does not mean that hurricanes themselves are going to become more common as the conditions that form these cyclones are incredibly complex. Instead, what can be said about climate change and hurricanes is that it’s making them worse.

Photo by Boaz Guttman

As sea levels rise due to global warming, the storm surges of hurricanes are becoming more deadly. Storm surges are waves produced by ocean water being pushed away from the storm by the rapidly rotating winds, which combine the normal tide to create a tsunami-style bulge of water that can rapidly flood low-lying coastal areas. The worst effects of these waves were highlighted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, where levees broke during a storm surge that flooded New Orleans.Therefore rising sea levels pose an even bigger threat as they allow these storms to ravage vulnerable areas.

The temperature of the ocean also worsens hurricanes, as warmer water leads to more evaporation and rainfall.Climate scientist, Michael Mann said in a Facebook post on August 27th, that “sea surface temperatures in the area where Harvey intensified were 0.5-1C warmer than current-day average temperatures, which translates to 1-1.5C warmer than the ‘average’ temperatures a few decades ago. That means 3-5% more moisture in the atmosphere.”
The excess rain that came from Hurricane Harvey led to massive flooding and damage in cities like Houston, which has left residents to pick up the pieces. As more moisture enters the atmosphere, rainfall from storms like these will only become more severe.

“We haven’t seen a string of large tropical storms like this happen in- as far back as I can remember,” said science teacher and Evergreen sponsor, Jeff Newton. “Warming ocean waters intensified the storms, it increased the storm surge, it allowed the air to hold onto more water, and then you got… 50 inches of rain in Houston…that’s unprecedented.”

Though the scale these storms begs the question of some larger power behind them, ultimately hurricanes are natural phenomenon that affect low-lying areas. Coasts and islands on the Caribbean are simply in the path of these storms. While the severity and destruction left by these recent string of hurricanes is an unquestionable sign of climate change’s impact, trying to blame a concept for these natural disasters undermines the science of climate change and global warming as a whole. Instead these storms stand as examples of how rising global temperatures can have devastating impacts
So when reports claim that climate change is the cause of some deadly weather event, remember to, in the words of Mr. Newton, “think skeptically.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About the Writer
Colin McElduff, News Editor

Colin McElduff is a senior at Lakes Community High School, and this will be his second year as the News Editor for the Talon Times  He is deeply interested...

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • School

    Why Is the School so Cold?

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    International

    Mosque Attack in New Zealand

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    A&E

    The World of Virtual Wallets

  • Community

    The Stories You Need To Know

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    School

    Snow Days: Fact or Fiction

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    A&E

    The Most Liked Instagram Picture: An Egg

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    State & National

    Starbucks Move to Install Needle Disposal Boxes in Bathrooms

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    Features

    Studying for Finals

  • After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?

    Movies, Music & Television

    5 New Holiday Releases in 2018 to Refresh Your Holiday Playlist

  • State & National

    Girl Scouts Sue the Boy Scouts of America over Rebranding

Navigate Right
the voice of Lakes Community High School
After Harvey & Irma, Is Climate Change to Blame?