*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
It has been an extremely bad decade for poor beleaguered Louisiana with water bringing a special kind of devastation to the New Orleans and now the Baton Rouge areas. Those water-borne disasters are in addition to the (other) man-made disaster when water carried crude oil to pollute the Gulf coastline. Although it’s considered bad form to politicize loss of life and property, there hasn’t been nearly enough attention paid to why 31 inches of rain fell in 15 hours in some locales, or why experts are warning that Louisiana should prepare for these natural disasters to come more frequently and with greater severity.
There is really a simple answer to why, as climate scientists predicted three decades ago, the floods plaguing Louisiana should have been expected even though it is rapidly approaching the juncture when nothing mankind can do will stop the extreme weather. As “science guy” Bill Nye explained:
“This is a result of climate change. As the ocean gets warmer, which it is getting, it expands. And then as the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates. And so it’s very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects.”
Nye’s prediction is that the most recent round of Louisiana flooding “is only going to get worse” and warned the state’s residents that because of the effects of climate change, the region will be hit over and over again and suffer more catastrophic floods. That is the consensus among climate scientists that Republicans and their standard bearer Donald J. Trump claim are hoaxers. It is precisely why Scientific American labeled Trump’s lack of respect for science “alarming,” particularly in light of the recent 500 year flood event that is certain to become increasingly more common.
According to one climate researcher at Texas Tech University, Katharine Hayhoe, “Louisiana is always at risk of floods, naturally, but climate change is exacerbating that risk, weighting the dice against us. How long will it be until we finally recognize that the dice are loaded?”
Ms. Hayhoe should clarify who she means when she says “we.” Because at this juncture it is only one segment of the country that still refuses to recognize that climate change, or its damning effects, even exists.
As Bill Nye pointed out, the simplest link between climate change and extreme weather events involves heat waves; this is according to yet another recent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The study reiterates that,
“Heavy rainfall is influenced by a moister atmosphere, which is a relatively direct consequence of human-induced warming, though not as direct as the increase in temperature itself.” The climate scientists say that “as the atmosphere warms, its ability to retain water vapor increases.” Thus, the warming “climate’s influence on precipitation events runs from tropical cyclones to blizzards, and all of them are able to produce more precipitation in extreme events than before.” Louisiana’s historic flooding is living proof of what climate scientists have been warning about to no avail.
As if to accentuate the surety of climate change’s impact as the cause for the recent Louisiana floods, world weather and climate researchers just revealed that July was the hottest month the world has endured since records began in 1880. This “new” record follows the past several months’ records that were each “the hottest month the world has endured” than the month before, and as Mr. Nye pointed out; that record global warming creates warmer ocean temperatures that guarantee more storms and greater risks of flooding. Nye’s prediction was joined by Bob Henson and Jeff Masters writing in the Weather Underground:
“Climate change has already been shown to increase the amounts of rain falling in the most intense events across many parts of the world, and extreme rainfall events like this week’s Louisiana storm are expected [to] grow increasingly common in the coming years.”
Climate scientists were, and have been, warning, to no avail, of the catastrophic effects of climate change and global warming for at least the past three decades. And yet despite the mountains of research and real-life evidence such as more extreme weather events, wildfires and historic droughts, Republicans still claim climate change is a liberal hoax. It’s a safe bet that the families of the dead in Louisiana and those 60-plus thousand who lost their homes don’t see the effects of climate change as a liberal hoax.
As mentioned above, it isn’t good form to politicize a monumental disaster, but in the midst of a general election campaign where one entire Party denies anything untoward is happening, there is no better time to make addressing climate change a major political issue, particularly in the typically Republican-dominated states that are being wracked by extreme weather-borne devastation.
Of course climate change is not a sexy campaign issue like railing against building a “fabulous wall” or barring Muslims and Hispanics entrance to America or detonating nuclear devices over populated areas to “destroy ISIS,” but it is an issue that the entire nation is aware of right now whether they know it or not. Democrats have another stellar opportunity to bring the issue to the fore while some of the country’s attention is on the plight of the flood victims in Louisiana.
There is little doubt that when Congress is pressed to provide emergency disaster relief for Louisiana residents, Republicans will resist as is their wont. When that time arrives, and it certainly will, that is the opportunity for Democrats at the national, state and regional level to remind recalcitrant Republicans that climate change is not only destroying lives, businesses and homes; it is costing the nation in emergency disaster aid with every new extreme weather event. And, they must emphasize to Republicans that they are having to allot more money to cover damages from extreme events that are becoming more common with each month that temperature records are shattered due to climate change, something even the most uncompromising Republicans can hardly deny and still maintain even a pretense of being intelligent.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.