OPINION by ALLAN COOPER
With the devastation caused by hurricane Harvey and the devastation caused by hurricane Irma, I believe it is important to look at how extreme weather – mainly precipitated by climate change – has impacted the entire world and how it has, more specifically, impacted the United States (between 1980 and 2017). In summary, here are the facts:
World-wide: (source: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres)
1) Natural disasters have nearly quadrupled in number since 1970.
2) In the last two months, 1,000 people have been killed in flooding events.
3) Some 40 million people have seen their homes, businesses or crops destroyed.
4) Last year, 24.2 million people were displaced by sudden natural disasters – three times as many as caused by conflict and violence.
5) The United States has experienced the most disasters since 1995, followed by China and India.
Within the United States: (source: NOAA)
6) According to NOAA between 1980 and 2017 the 212 natural disasters which have occurred within the U.S. have resulted in 9,680 deaths and incurred losses totaling (CPI adjusted) $1,237,500,000.00
7) Texas was the state that experienced the highest number of natural disasters over this period (94).
8) If you’re looking for a safe place to live, you might choose North Dakota which experienced the least number of natural disasters between 1980 and 2017 (15) (just joking!).
You might want to click onto the following NOAA link.
For example, within the last year and eight months alone, natural disasters occurring within the United States included baseball-sized (reaching 4-1/2 inch in diameter) hail storms over multiple states, a multi-state 15-inch rain event in 2017, a Houston 17-inch rain event in 2016 and a Louisiana 31-inch rain event in 2016. These resulted in breached levees, flooding and loss of 50,000 homes and 20,000 businesses. Also included was severe storms have included high, unusual straight-line winds and widespread tornadoes (tornadoes occurring earlier in the season over a larger area), an unusual severe freeze in the Southeast during the month of March, drought- and bark beetle-related wildfires with over 5 million acres burned in the western and southern states, extreme drought resulting in the loss of 100 million trees and a category 4 hurricane (Matthew) resulting in the loss of 100,000 homes, businesses and other structures.
In conclusion, propagandists (as in oil companies), conspiracy theorists (as in Rush Limbaugh) and anti-intellectuals (as in Donald Trump) can deny climate change – or the more nuanced reasons for climate change – all they want. But the facts remain the facts and objective assessment of evidence is for many of us the only path toward survival on this planet.