Op-Ed: Hurricane Ian and the coming climate crash
Hurricane Ian has been a boon in its destruction to the Bahamas so far, as the storm has produced at least eight deaths, more than 1,000 people injured and caused at least $25 million in damage. The storm’s effects have also been devastating throughout the Caribbean, causing billions in damage and killing more than 200 people.
As we move through the summer and into fall, we’re in a dire time for the planet. Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and destructive. This week’s hurricane season is one that will test the mettle of the planet’s weather systems — and the resilience of those at the receiving end of extreme climate change. And scientists tell us it will likely be the most active hurricane season ever, with hurricanes becoming ever more powerful as the planet warms — up to the point of having the capability to “blow up Texas,” which will be made more likely by the effects of anthropogenic climate change.
We should all pay close attention to the hurricane season and how it shapes the climate at the end of the decade. For instance, scientists are now beginning to realize how much sea-level rise is likely to happen in our lifetime as the planet warms. Many factors have been proposed to change the rate of sea-level rise — such as a weakening of the West Antarctic ice sheet and ocean acidification. Whether or not those factors play a role in the current sea-level rise isn’t exactly clear, but it’s clear that they are playing a role in the past, as recent studies have revealed sea-level rises of between five and 10 inches in the past 1,500 years. According to a recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sea-level rise of more than seven feet in the past century has been attributed to a combination of heat-trapping gases (primarily carbon dioxide and methane) and oceanic heat.
This is all to say that the climate crisis that we’re on a course towards is not the end of life on Earth — climate change is merely the