The front-page headline in the August 28th edition of USA Today loudly exclaimed: CATASTROPHE. This appropriately defined the scenes of devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey we have all witnessed from Houston and its surrounding communities. On the heels of Harvey came Irma unleashing a path of destruction up and down the state of Florida. As the news cycle shifts it focus away from its continuous coverage of these events, it is a good time to assess why we may be experiencing such an increase in the ferocity of these storms and the damage they do to those in their path.
In addition to the tragic loss of life, the flooding shut down oil industry operations resulting in significant pain at the pump for consumers. The economic ramifications of these storms are expected to be felt across the nation moving forward. There are many who deny the existence of climate change and the role it plays in altering our weather patterns. However, according to Clare Nullis spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations responsible for weather and climate, “Climate change means that when we do have an event like Harvey, the rainfall amounts are likely to be higher than they would have been otherwise.” Climate scientists and researchers reason that climate change may not have been the direct cause of these storms, but the warming of our oceans and the corresponding rise in sea levels caused by the alterations in our weather patterns certainly were contributory factors exacerbating their effects. The occurrence of such weather-related phenomena further reinforces the argument that the decision of this administration to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord was wrong-headed. Moreover, it showed a complete lack of understanding on this issue. It is in our national interest to be part of these global agreements.