Letter to the Editor: Educate yourself on climate change

Hurricane Harvey | Image courtesy of NASA via AP, St. George News

OPINION — Labeled a “1,000 year storm,” the impact of hurricane/tropical storm Harvey is being called “unfathomable” and it’s not over yet. More feet of rain are predicted from the massive, lingering storm on top of an already flooded area.

It’s being called “worse than Katrina.” Houston’s two airports, the Port of Houston, hospitals, and businesses are closed. Oil refineries are at risk; drilling in the Gulf is shut down.

The human toll is hard to comprehend. Estimated costs approach $30 billion and all Americans will help pay that tab indirectly through federal taxes, cuts in programs and higher property insurance premiums. The National Flood Insurance Program, with a debt of $25 billion, is set to expire September 30.

A warmer world means more moisture in the air which means more rain falls. Simple fact.

Texas politicians are famous climate change deniers. Will Harvey help them recognize scientific reality? Probably not.

It’s up to educated voters to change the political resistance to facing the reality of climate change. Educate yourself at Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

Don’t wait until the next election; pressure your legislators today.

Written by JEAN M. LOWN, St. George

Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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32 Comments

  • NickDanger September 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Hurricane Harvey was not a strong hurricane. It was a category 3 out of 5. So to act as if this hurricane’s existence is the result of climate change is an argument from fallacy. It’s not the strength of the hurricane that has created such “unfathomable” damage, it’s the location that it hit.

    I’m certainly open to the study of climate change and its impact. I am not a denier, I’m just a person who isn’t a scientist. But I am also aware that there are political motivations for taking either side. That being the case, unfortunately in the current era, there is no way to know who’s telling the truth, who’s lying, which scientists are being paid for their opinions and which ones aren’t. It’s sad really, but that’s the way it is now.

    So I’ll leave climate change in the political sphere, and if mankind kills itself, it will ultimately be because we could no longer trust each other to tell the truth. About anything.

    One thing is certain though – some people will use any tragic event to advance their personal agenda and/or interests. In this case, the writer is unironically ignoring the real science of the situation in order to promote scientific inquiry.

    • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      There is more to this than location, though places like the Gulf cities are predicted to see higher intensity hurricanes in a world influenced by anthropogenic global climate change.

      We can’t say climate change caused it, as we have so obviously experienced massive hurricanes, but we can associate its severity and the rapid changes before landfall. That much is clear and fits with the scientific models. The Gulf States are predicted to experience some of the worst effects of rising sea levels in the US, hence the destruction of the surge of this storm.

      Another basic fact is that warmer air and water temperatures drive these storms. Harvey dropped easily broke the record for most rain dropped in one storm. This is directly correlated to the unprecedented warm waters in the Gulf at the time which is the basic fuel for hurricanes. Warmer temps equal greater capacity for precipitation.

      Anthropogenic global climate change is a real phenomena supported by a consensus of interdisciplinary scientist. We have the capacity to reduce its impact in our lifetime but it means world citizens need the scientific literacy and willingness to act. This is exactly what the merchants of doubt try to prevent.

      • Blemonds September 3, 2017 at 9:56 pm

        The abnormal amount of rain dropped by Harvey had nothing to do with warmer water. When hurricanes make landfall, they start to dissipate. When Harvey hit landfall, a high pressure system over the western U.S. caused the storm to stall before getting far enough onshore to dissipate. The storm then lingered over the coast continuing to drop rain. So it had nothing to do with warmer water but rather the bad luck of bucking up against a high pressure system.

        • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 10:56 pm

          Untrue. The basic physics of storms is pretty simple; warmer air increases the precipitation carrying capacity. Warmer water drives this cycle in hurricanes. Harvey jumped from a Category 2 to Category 4 in less than 4 hours which has nothing to do with landfall. The Gulf water temperatures were 2.7-7.2F warmer than average which equates to a rise in moisture content (9-21% increase). It’s definitely related and one of the projections of models based on global climate change.

          https://www.wired.com/story/what-are-the-odds-of-a-super-storm-like-harvey/

          • Blemonds September 4, 2017 at 6:54 am

            The category 4 status has little to do with the devastation that occurred which was primarily outside the cone area where the high winds were. The devastation was due to the fact that the hurricane lingered so long (because of the high pressure system) and continued to dump rain at the outer edges of the storm. Had there been no high pressure system, it would have dissipated and not dropped anywhere near that much rain. Rather than dissipate, the storm was pushed back off the coast where it picked up more moisture and then moved east continuing to dump rain and make landfall again. Without that high pressure system, that would not have happened. It would have dissipated like previous storms.

        • bikeandfish September 4, 2017 at 12:18 am

          PS….the stall you noted actually worked in collaboration with , weather and climate are always multivariate, to lead to the outcome,.

          As I stated, no one can say with accuracy or any certainty that global climate change caused Harvey. But we can say this matches the predictions of climate scientists pretty well and that a rapid increase in intensity and a stall are highly correlated with the unusually warm waters of the Gulf at the time as well as the Jet Stream currents and behavior that likely influenced the High pressures that caused the stall. These are all issues that scientist have been talking about recently.

          http://www.climatesignals.org/node/7212

          • Blemonds September 4, 2017 at 7:00 am

            The reason climate occurrences match the predictions of climate alarmists is that the alarmists change those predictions after the fact. That’s why they no longer call it global warming but rather climate change. Then they pat themselves on the back for accuracy nearly every time there’s a storm, even though those storms have been occurring since the beginning of time. They also ignore the fact that the most recent record for hurricanes in this case is that there have been fewer than normal.

        • bikeandfish September 4, 2017 at 3:28 pm

          Well at least you are persistent, Blemonds.

          Per the common skeptic or denier trope about the name change….debunked ages ago and plenty of evidence that both terms have existed for decades. Its a predictable talking point with no merit. While used interchangeably by some, especially in the media, they refer to completely different scientific phenomena.

          https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-global-warming.htm

          Per your idea about alarmist creating some type of moving target….also without merit. The ideas about jet stream affecting the severity and behavior of storms, like stalling we saw in Harvey, has been talked about within the scientific community well before this storm. One of the widely-respect scientist being quoted right now, Michael Mann, actually published a report with Nature, one of the leading scientific journals in the world, about stationary storms and their relationship to anthropogenic global climate change. That happened in March, almost five months before Harvey, so there was no moving of the goalpost in this case but a storm that actually lined up with previous modeling and statistical analysis.

          https://www.nature.com/articles/srep45242

          PS…my Cat 4 reference was back to Danger. As I stated, those measurements are about wind speed which doesn’t seem to the most devastating issue with Harvey.

          PSS…Another retraction…I misspoke as a 1 in 1000 storm = 0.1% chance each year. 1 in 1000 is numerically 0.001 but that is not the same as percentage. My bad.

    • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      PS, it was a Category 4 which only deals with wind speeds. Katrina was a Category 3 and was still one of the most devastating hurricanes in American history.

  • Blemonds September 3, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    If Hurricane Harvey was indeed a 1000 year storm, that means the last storm of similar intensity occurred about 1000 years ago, and another about 2000 years ago etc.. What caused those previous storms to be so intense? SUV’s? I don’t think so

    • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      That is not what that means at all. It means in any given year there is a 0.001% chance in experiencing a storm of that severity. Global climate change predicts we will see more storms like this more often than historical statistics.

      • bsalmoo September 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        that is EXACTLY what it means. You can expect one of these every 1000 years. Is your liberal mind confused that this happened in the past without republicans to blame it on?

        • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 10:56 pm

          You don’t understand statistics.

        • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 11:26 pm

          http://www.azcentral.com/story/weather/2017/08/29/harvey-500-year-storm-1000-year-storm-definition/613832001/

          From the above article:

          …Officials sometimes use terms such 100-year or 1,000-year flood to express risk in part because modern weather records don’t go back much more than 100 years in most places in the United States.

          So if the probability of a certain level of extreme flooding is determined to be 1 percent for a given area, that’s a 1-in-100 chance. That could be described as a 100-year flood. A 0.1 percent chance (1 in 1,000) would be a 1,000-year flood.

          But that doesn’t mean it could only happen once in 100 or 1,000 years.

          “You could have two 500-year floods one year after another,” Cerveny said. “But the long-term likelihood is you don’t have that, that frequently. It’s a statistical measure.”…

          Its very similar to the 100 year flood designation and statistical analysis FEMA uses:

          https://water.usgs.gov/edu/100yearflood.html

          “The term “100-year flood” is used in an attempt to simplify the definition of a flood that statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year. Likewise, the term “100-year storm” is used to define a rainfall event that statistically has this same 1-percent chance of occurring. In other words, over the course of 1 million years, these events would be expected to occur 10,000 times. But, just because it rained 10 inches in one day last year doesn’t mean it can’t rain 10 inches in one day again this year.”

          As noted, its not that one happened roughly a 1000 years ago as you state; its that within a million years we would expect to see 1,000 “thousand year storms” but they could be distributed unevenly and actually grouped close together.

      • Blemonds September 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        Global climate change is incapable of making any kind of prediction. People with agendas are making predictions that we’ll see more storms more often. For what it’s worth, the current hurricane situation in Texas is calmer than average. I guess that’s due to global warming as well

        • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 11:11 pm

          Sorry for the semantics error. You are correct, the phenomena known as climate change is incapable of making predictions as its not a sentient being. Scientist who understand climate change and study it run models that make certain predictions. Those include severe oscillations in storms like this. If their models are correct, and thus far they have been proven overly optimistic and affects are more severe actually, then we can expect to greater frequency of severe storms (aka Harvey) while also experiencing unusually mellow hurricane seasons.

          The concept of average years and intensities goes out the window. So yes, in some ways the concept of “calmer than average” actually aligns with climate change. Though I would love to see a climatologist who states its calmer than average. Hard to make that conclusion since the two most costly hurricanes in the states history, and Harvey dropping the most rain from one storm in American history, have made landfall within 9 years of each other. That pretty rapid succession. Since 2005 three major hurricanes have reeked havoc on the areas it hits.

          Could you provide any scientific support for your claim?

  • DB September 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    How about an unbiased link? The Galveston hurricane 117 years ago was worse. The main problem with Harvey was that it hung around for days. Climate change? I’m sure someone at MSNBC has already jumped to that conclusion.

  • comments September 3, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    yep, the end of the world. we livin’ in the end times folks. and i aint even a xtian, lol.

  • Lastdays September 3, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    A 1000 year flood is reference to a statistical measure — 1 in 1,000. It means that there is a 1 in 1,000, or 0.1 percent, chance that such a rain event or flood will occur in any given year.
    So, it’s possible to get a storm like this every year or 2, but not likely, statistically speaking.

    Climate Change has been around since the beginning of time. But Man Made Climate Change is what makes up this relentless controversy. First we have to look at why the push to convince people that “they” are causing weather patterns which may or may not be causing so called Global Warming. The earth has had wild cyclical weather patterns for ever.

    Al Gore has proven to us there is money and power to be had with convincing people that we are causing Climate Change. Al is taking a page right from PT Barnum ” There’s a sucker born every minute ” He and others want force legislation to fleece us of money, have power over our lives in order to stop or reverse this so called Manmade Climate Change.

    It’s a hoax of massive proportions !! Even if it was possible for us group of insignificant humans here on earth to actually cause Climate Change, it’s even more statistically impossible for us to think we are capable of reversing it !! Think about it. It’s all about money, greed and power.

    • comments September 3, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      Lastdays… hmm. I should change my name on here to EndTimes. We can all be little xtian end-of-the-world nutters together, huh? aye

      • Lastdays September 3, 2017 at 6:15 pm

        Among others sources, I like the website climatedepot.com
        They do a great job of debunking all the phony global warming sources.

        • bikeandfish September 4, 2017 at 12:35 am

          Ah, Marc Marrano and his website funded by Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow with donations from Exxon and Chevron. Mann has no degree or training in climatology. Libertarians are clearly allowed to have influence on public policy but the CFACT organization is a conservative think tank not an unbiased third party scientific organization.

    • bikeandfish September 3, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      There is no controversy within the scientific community about the anthropogenic roots of climate change. The notion of historic climate change is a red herring that ignores the fact that humans have only existed here for 6 million years on a planet that is over 4.5 billion years old. We exist and thrive within certain environmental parameters that could be jeopardized by the effects of global climate change. This has never been about the earth surviving but about our ability to protect our own populations. The scientific predictions are actually proving to be overly optimistic or conservative given the storms and events of the last 5 years.

      We may not be able to stop all of its impact in my lifetime but we can slow it down.

  • slowdown September 3, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I won’t believe in man made climate change until the government begins making tree planting tax deductable. Until then it’s just a global income redistribution scheme. Anyone who promotes man made climate change is just a pawn in this global hoax. Its just another way to tax us.

  • ffwife September 3, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Climate changes, always has, always will ….

  • Real Life September 3, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Climate change is real. What causes it, can be argued.

  • reddirt September 3, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Well Jean from one carbon based life form to another……relax! There is one constant in weather and that is that it is always changing and we don’t have any say about it. A single volcanic eruption has a far greater impact on weather than you or I or our collective society could ever muster. It is no secret our own government has been playing with the weather via HARP and chem trails. It makes for some interesting research if you are willing to check your ego and conspiracy loathings at the door long enough to recognize things for how they actually are. Sending money to Al Gore or any other government entity will not do one iota of good to the atmosphere , other than maybe to soothe your own mind into believing your making a “difference.” These same groups don’t have any vested interest in natures balance other than in lining their own pockets. Waiting for the next sky is falling event that they help manufacture to further fleece the masses. Please stop yourself from using the very buzz words and catch phrases that are being carefully spoon fed to you, by a willing media and education system. Designed to hide things as they actually are and coax your belief in contrived lies. After all if its on tv or in the news it must be true…. right? So much effort put in to convincing people that there is no God, there is no creation… there is only science, and these guys obviously are so much more enlightened than everyone else, they don’t have an agenda do they? Nasa when founded by our nation was run by Warner Von Braun, and couple dozen other top Nazi “scientists”. They were really good at manufacturing propaganda, and still are to this very day. Hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payer dollars poured down a rat hole. For fun do a google search for pictures of the earth from space, and please try and find one that is real and not a composite image, so strange how every continent seems to change in size, year to year. Funny how data can be omitted or altered to give a false impression by these scholars. We never went to the moon, we never went to mars, we don’t have an international space station, and we don’t live on a globe. Should be plain enough. I for one will not be drinking their kool aid.

  • Kilroywashere September 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Has anybody mentioned cattle yet? Deforestation comes to mind. But talk about statistics, when does the next super volcano blow up? I hear Yellowstone earthquakes are trending up these days. Alas, global warming from a scientific standpoint, and by science’s very own definition, has become a pseudo-science. The link between man and increasing global temperature on a macro scale is unknown, regardless of what ice core samples indicate. However common sense does dictate that there has to be SOME impact from long-term human development. That for me points to population growth and sustainability of limited resources. In regards to global warming, the interpretation of the data at its root level is the source of my contention, WE DONT KNOW for sure. The fact may be, that it is a technological race we will have to win in coming years, or perhaps a macro cycle that we have no say anyway. Science has become religion and even dare I say ~ politically correct.

  • commonsense September 4, 2017 at 11:42 am

    No question that we are in a warming cycle. Very much doubt about human caused climate change . Quit politicizing climate change. Climate has changed for ions and will continue to do so. Harvey does not validate the liberal narrative.

  • Craig September 4, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    When did climate change move from theory to proven fact? I have not read that.

    My understanding is it is still a forceful debate with some of the data “proving” climate change to be incorrect and some interpretations of data proven to be incorrect.

    Let us know when this became settled fact.

    • bikeandfish September 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Theory in science doesn’t mean the same thing as we use it in every day conversation.

      In science a theory means “an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested, in accordance with the scientific method, by using a predefined protocol of observations and experiments. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and are a comprehensive form of scientific knowledge”. How we use the term day to day is more like an scientific hypothesis, ie an idea or explanation of events based on observation but not yet tested.

      There is a consensus within the scientific community about anthropogenic global climate change. Its been tested for decades in interdisciplinary ways (biology, chemistry, physics, climatology, etc) that continue to strengthen its definition as a scientific theory. Debate beyond that is really beyond what most of us have the scientific literacy or ability to understand but that exists in all fields (science by definition is always open to revision with the discovery of new information).

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