I was in Houston, Texas, this time of the year 4 years ago and it’s sad to see how badly affected the city and its people are today by tropical storm Harvey. The BBC news just reported that this is the worst floods Texas has faced in 50 years. At least 5 people are reported to have died (New York Times). Meanwhile, the UK had the hottest August bank holiday on record today. All these extreme weather events are signs of climate change.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that “the global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.” Yet, the current US government, who doesn’t believe in climate change, has decided to undo any effort from previous governments to reduce the use of energy from fossil fuel.
NOAA published the key findings of the US National Climate Assessment in their website. Some of the findings are listed below:
- Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and new and stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are related to human activities.
- Human-induced climate change is projected to continue, and it will accelerate significantly if global emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to increase.
- Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond.
- Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including through more extreme weather events and wildfire, decreased air quality, and diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water.
- Infrastructure is being damaged by sea level rise, heavy downpours, and extreme heat; damages are projected to increase with continued climate change.
Carbon Brief carried out an analysis which suggests 63% of all extreme weather events studied to date were made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change. Heatwaves account for nearly half of such events (46%), droughts make up 21% and heavy rainfall or floods account for 14%. The report includes an interactive map which shows 144 extreme weather events across the globe which has been studied scientifically. The Carbon Brief analysis points out that “taking into account all modeling results, the probability of an event like the one in south Louisiana in 2016 has increased at least by a factor of 1.4 due to radiative forcing.” Link
The BBC news also reported that President Trump is to visit Houston. Hopefully, he will believe now that weather extremes are becoming comon place everywhere, including the USA, and hopefully he will begin to believe that the effects of climate change are real and think about his recent actions.
Some photos I’ve taken during my one-day stop in Houston, Texas, this time 4 years ago.
van de Wiel et al., (2017) Rapid attribution of the August 2016 flood-inducing extreme precipitation in south Louisiana to climate change. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 21, 897-921