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Human-caused global climate change causes more violent hurricanes

On+Sept.+7%2C+2017+the+Western+Atlantic+was+host+to+three+hurricanes%3A+Katia+in+the+Gulf+of+Mexico%2C+Irma+in+the+center%2C+and+Jose+to+the+right.
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Human-caused global climate change causes more violent hurricanes

On Sept. 7, 2017 the Western Atlantic was host to three hurricanes: Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, Irma in the center, and Jose to the right.

On Sept. 7, 2017 the Western Atlantic was host to three hurricanes: Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, Irma in the center, and Jose to the right.

Courtesy of CHIPS, The US Navy's Magazine

On Sept. 7, 2017 the Western Atlantic was host to three hurricanes: Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, Irma in the center, and Jose to the right.

Courtesy of CHIPS, The US Navy's Magazine

Courtesy of CHIPS, The US Navy's Magazine

On Sept. 7, 2017 the Western Atlantic was host to three hurricanes: Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, Irma in the center, and Jose to the right.

Alaina Ceynowa, Community Editor

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Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and violent with each passing season. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Center, the amount of hurricanes since 1995 has gone up significantly; six more storms on average per season to be exact. The percentage of category 3,4, and 5 hurricanes have increased by 25 percent since 1995 as well. There is a reason for this drastic increase in these storms: climate change.

The ocean temperature has increased roughly 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century. This is one explanation why we are having such an increase in tropical storms. Another effect of this rapid climate increase is the melting of the ice caps, which have been frozen for centuries before us are now suddenly melting at an alarming rate. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the summer melt on the Greenland ice sheet has increased by 30 percent from 1979 to 2006. If the Greenland ice sheet melted completely, global sea level would rise by seven meters.

Despite all of these facts, many members of society still consider climate change a hoax. But the concept of a major change in the earth’s climate isn’t really such a crazy idea. Earth has had five major ice ages, a Medieval Warming Period, and many other drastic changes in its climate. The defining difference between current climate change and past events is human contribution to pollution by relying on fossil fuels, burning forests and plenty of other things the human race has done to decrease the ozone layer which protects earth’s surface from the sun’s heat and radiation. The rate of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has increased three time since the Industrial Revolution. One of the consequences of that are frequent, destructive hurricanes.

Just this past August, Houston and its surrounding areas suffered huge losses with Hurricane Harvey. Harvey broke many records, and despite the fact that it was a category 4 storm (5 being the highest, based on wind speeds and storm surges rather than rainfall), the hurricane caused over $180 billion in damages. It dumped over 50 inches of rain on just Texas and Louisiana, wiping out hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings, and hundreds of schools. The death toll reached 77.  

Hurricanes, as all storms, are driven by heat. Therefore, more heat equals bigger storms. When the heat in the oceans and air mix to create water vapor, they rise, causing convection, which then leads to circulating winds. Thus, the perfect storm is created. Hurricanes would exist even if Earth was not experiencing this rapid climate change, but the heat creates more fuel for these storms.

Humans release pollution into the earth’s atmosphere which decreases the thickness of  the ozone layer. This leads to the Greenhouse Effect, caused by the entrapment of the sun’s heat in a planet’s lower atmosphere due to the thinning of the ozone layer. This phenomenon perpetuates these vicious storm cycles and makes them even deadlier.

In the midst of all these tragic hurricanes and other natural consequences of climate change, there is a huge controversy surrounding whether or not humans are causing it. One radio host, Rush Limbaugh, made a statement on his thoughts regarding the hurricane Irma panic saying it was a hoax to promote bottled water sales and hinting at the fact that it could be part of the “liberal agenda”.

He then said on his show, “There is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it. You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic […] All you need is to create the fear and panic accompanied by talk that climate change is causing hurricanes to become more frequent and bigger and more dangerous, and you create panic, and its mission accomplished, agenda advanced.”

Right after these Limbaugh made these statements, meteorologist Al Roker went to Twitter to tell people not to listen to Limbaugh and that he was putting people’s lives at risk by claiming that Irma was not a dangerous storm. Many people chimed in on both sides.

Shortly after making these statements, Limbaugh evacuated his home in Palm Beach Florida due to the dangers of hurricane Irma.

This argument of who caused climate change is an extremely polarizing issue but no matter what you believe, there’s no doubt that these hurricanes are extremely devastating and are continuing to worsen.

Readers can learn more about the damage that recent storms have done, and how to help on the Red Cross’s Website.

1 Comment

One Response to “Human-caused global climate change causes more violent hurricanes”

  1. Ms Garifo on October 4th, 2017 11:50 am

    This article was well-researched and very well written. It was entertaining to read while still be scientifically accurate and educating.

    Great Article!

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Human-caused global climate change causes more violent hurricanes