Posts Tagged ‘Storm surge’
I am aware that my arrival last week helped re-elect President Obama.
Superstorms like me don’t play politics but it should be clear by now that your refusal to tackle global warming has serious consequences. Higher sea levels and amped-up hurricanes like me are just two of them. There is an awful price to pay for burning coal, oil, and natural gas I’m sorry to say.
Putting hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere is trapping more of the sun’s heat energy. CO2 is the planet’s natural heating blanket but those extra hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 has made that blanket thicker. And it is getting thicker every year.
Nearly 200 people were killed in the 10 days I traveled from Jamaica to Canada. Most of the deaths were American. The US remains by far the largest emitter of CO2. With a fraction of the world population, the US is responsible for nearly 30 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions from 1860 to 2009. On a person by person basis, Americans have one of the biggest CO2 ‘footprints’.
Some of you have known for a long time how dangerous CO2 is. The first international conference to address the climate-disrupting impacts of burning coal, oil, and natural gas was held 24 years ago. Called “The Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security” your politicians and scientists concluded:
“humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war”.
They accurately warned of a dangerous temperature increase without action to reduce emissions. (Conference summary statement)
Knowing all this your oil, coal and gas corporations were allowed to grow to become the world’s most powerful and profitable industry. You gave, and continue to give, those corporations who are making the planet less habitable billions of tax dollars in subsidies.
Now there is so much CO2 in the atmosphere the entire planet is .8C (1F) hotter and that temperature will at least triple. This additional heat energy being trapped by the extra CO2 amounts to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year. This has spawned more and more destructive extreme weather events. This ‘new normal’ will only worsen as more CO2 is released.
The refusal to tackle global warming has led to nearly 400,000 deaths and more than $1.2 trillion is being lost every year mainly due to damage to food production and from extreme weather linked to climate change. Air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels is also separately contributing to the deaths of at least 4.5 million people a year. These deaths and costs will only worsen with every additional tonne of CO2.
In human terms CO2 is forever. Your countries’ emissions today will disrupt the climate of your children, grand children and great grandchildren. To minimize the severity and intensity of flooding, droughts, destructive storms and crop failures your CO2 footprint needs to grow smaller and virtually disappear over the next few decades.
The US CO2 footprint has been getting smaller in recent years. The recession, closures of old coal plants and more natural gas has resulted in fewer emissions. Others are doing their part. The British are 18 percent below their emission levels in 1990 and aim to get down to 34 percent by 2020. The US is still well above its 1990s levels. This ongoing failure to act has cost the US its global leadership position.
This does not appear to be your future. The fossil fuel industry is too powerful and has instilled a fear of change amongst many of you. What you should be truly fearful of is the worsening of powerful storms that kill, the floods that destroy and droughts that will cause hunger for your children and your children’s children.
As you sow so shall you reap.
Hard to believe I was born only a week ago south of Jamaica. I grew very quickly over the hot Carribbean sea and last Wednesday swept into Jamaica west of Kingston with winds of 130 kph. Damage was extensive cutting power to half the country. One person died.
Last Thursday I was in Cuba, another poor country that can least afford to be damaged. Cuba is well organized to cope with powerful hurricanes. Just 35 deaths through 16 hurricanes and tropical storms since 2001.The US has fared far worse with fewer storms.
But I was a Category 2 when I arrived over Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city. Eleven people died, 3000 buildings destroyed, 30,000 lost their roofs. A billion dollars in damages. It will be a long recovery. The power is still out today.
In the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic more people died and thousands of homes were damaged.
Worst off was the most vulnerable of all: Haiti.
More than 50 people died in the southern Haiti including the area around Port-au-Prince. This where most of the 370,000 Haitians who are still living in flimsy shelters because the 2010 earthquake destroyed their homes. My flooding and high-winds destroyed many of those shelters as well their crops.
I hope you will help them. They have no resources to recover. Please remember no matter what comes in the next two days they will still be worse off.
I’m sorry to say that I have so much wind energy from the warm ocean water I am pushing the sea into your living rooms along the mid-Atlantic coast. The ocean is like a bowl full of water, blow hard enough on an angle and it will readily spill over.
My winds are topping 150 kph (90 miles per hour). They will lessen as come closer to land but by then so much water will be piled up against the coast there still will be extensive flooding all night long.
Record storm surge flooding has already occurred in regions along the New Jersey coast this morning. At high tide this evening much of the New York and New Jersey coast will experience historic levels of flooding.