Hurricane Florence and the severity of climate change

Ben Borrok, Contributing Writer

Hurricane Florence ravaged the mid-Atlantic region this past week, leaving at least 37 dead, as well as hundreds of thousands without power. As of now, damages could range between $50 and $60 billion, but the region will be reeling from this storm for a number of months, maybe even years.

The 2018 hurricane season started with a bang as Hurricane Florence ran its course, but forecasts show that more storms could threaten the east coast until November. We have seen storms of this magnitude arrive more frequently in recent years, with Sandy, Maria, and Harvey all destroying the regions in their path. It is troubling that we are the reason for this destruction.

Hurricanes in the Atlantic are strengthened by warm water, resulting in storms with higher wind speeds and greater surge onto the coasts. Rising ocean temperature is a repercussion of man-made climate change dating back to the Industrial Revolution. The threat of climate change is ever-present; from the brutal summers to the harsh winters we face each year. There are constantly new reports chronicling the rise in sea levels, temperatures, and the carbon dioxide content in the air, yet nothing has changed in terms of policy. The debate in the United States seems to center around the legitimacy of this research, despite the certainty of climate change.

Our society seems to dodge these real questions regarding how to take action and protect our future. It’s easier to ignore the matter rather than make complex and crucial decisions. But how much longer can this go on before it is too late? Will we ever get past the opening questions in the fight against climate change? While other nations begin their attempts to reverse the consequences of rapid industrialization, we seem to further entrench ourselves in antiquated methods of energy production and backwards thinking. A perfect example is our intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that was signed by 196 countries. We went a step further by ridding ourselves of regulations already in place on automobile emissions and coal emissions. We are more concerned about our economy, but forget that we need to survive on Earth in order for our economy to exist.

If we continue our ignorance, marginalized groups will be impacted the most. For example, those who suffered the most from Hurricane Florence likely couldn’t afford to evacuate for a few days, and had to attempt to brave the storm in their homes. Forty percent of Americans do not have $400 in emergency savings and leaving home for a week or more could lead to bankruptcy. As sea levels rise, there are far too many Americans who cannot afford to move to higher ground, nor should they be expected to do so.

Saving the planet will not be fair or easy, but we have left ourselves with no other option. We may have to sacrifice cheap methods of energy production, rely more heavily on public transportation, and limit our water usage, but we will end up living in a cleaner and healthier world. What’s wrong with that? Even if climate science was all one big myth, why can’t we guarantee a better society for generations to come? Our children and their children would thank us, but if we don’t act, they may never have the chance.

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