|A brick building under renovation after deacdes of neglect is destroyed by Hurricane Maria.|
“This looks like a different country,” Marimar de la Cruz (NYT)
Well Maria just went through Puerto Rico and the place was utterly destroyed. Houses were torn apart, roofs sheered off, even high-rise concrete condominiums got holes blasted in their walls (probably cinderblock). Trees were uprooted or denuded of all vegetation, rainforests "logged," wildlife refuges devastated (the wild horses on Vieques), cities and highways badly flooded, telephone and electric lines thrown down and communications disrupted. It's now utterly medieval down there, a complete disaster.
This was just after the same storm hit Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Leeward Islands and Irma previously drove a wide swath of devastation all the way from Barbuda through the northern Leeward islands all the way to upstate Florida and beyond, wreaking havoc on those same islands, Cuba and the Florida Keys most especially; and Irma was after Harvey, who devastated Rockport, Texas, before drenching Houston with 40 inches of rain.
Now politicians are loath to say that any present-day event or phenomenon has been made to occur or become stronger by that bugaboo of all right-thinking Conservatives, called Climate Change, or Anthropogenic Global Warming. But when we look at the record of Category Five Hurricanes over the decades, we will have to admit that such phenomena are, indeed, facts.
And here are the facts:
1) The amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere has increased from 280 ppm CO2 in the 1880s to 410 ppm CO2 (490 ppm CO2e) today.
2) The global mean surface temperature has increased by 1.25 degrees C in that same time, in three fits and starts interrupted by declines or pauses.
3) The amount of atmospheric water vapor has simultaneously increased by about 5%.
4) The record shows that the number of Category Five Hurricanes in the Atlantic have increased from zilch a hundred and seventeen years ago to as many as two per year now. Here's the list:
1851-1900 50 years 0 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1901-1930 30 years 2 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1931-1960 30 years 8 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1961-1990 30 years 10 Cat-5 Hurricanes
1991-2016 26 years 13 Cat-5 Hurricanes
The midpoint of the linked data base's page is in 1955; the windspeed is in knots.
A better measurement would be by 50 year increments--it may make the time period 2001-2016 look even more extreme!
Note that there were ZERO, ZILCH, ZIP, NADA category Five Hurricanes in the Atlantic from 1851 through 1900. Next there were only two in the period ending in 1930, eight from 1931 through 1960, and ten from 1961 through 1990. Thirteen so far have occurred in the period beginning in 1991.
And we're not done yet!, for the Gulf and the Caribbean are warmer than normal (Earth Nullschool), the Carribean especially, and a zone of low wind shear sits above both (Accuweather dot com).
What to do about it? Well I'm not making any recommendations and I'm not expecting much, despite the Climate Change Progressives demanding that the Government at all levels act on Global Warming (how?) and counting on the private sector to do a crash program to deliver the goods to decarbonize our economy, i.e., free us from our dependency on fossil fuels. Me? I'm not sure how much the private sector can do, how much the Government is willing to do without fucking everything up as usual, and how much the ordinary citizen is willing to sacrifice: giving up consumption to insulate and make more energy-efficient our homes and giving up our cars--the latter being impossible in most cases without losing our jobs and making our lives grossly inconvenient!
No, business as usual will go on, until it can't. And then it won't... just like in Puerto Rico.