Interstate 45 in Houston was submerged by Hurricane Harvey's widespread flooding on Monday, August 28, 2017. PHOTO CREDIT: Richard Carson / Reuters via The Atlantic
Over the weekend, Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 21 trillion gallons of water in Texas, making it the most extreme rainfall event in the continental United States in history. At least 18 people have been killed, and the death toll is likely to rise.
“Although these storms occur naturally, the storm is apt to be more intense, maybe a bit bigger, longer-lasting, and with much heavier rainfalls [...] The human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm. It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway—but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably.” ~ Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research
Hurricane Harvey likely wasn’t caused by climate change, but it was certainly made worse by it. The storm was able to gather more energy and fuel from a combination of warming temperatures in the sea and atmosphere. Global warming, the result of man-made greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere, caused the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico to rise and produce more moisture for the storm to feed on.
According to climate scientists, these “once in a century” hurricanes will only become more common and more intense as the earth continues to warm.
While this storm serves as a warning for the effects of climate change, we also need to show compassion and help those affected by this disaster. There are many ways we can help even from a far. As peacemakers, how can we rally our communities to help Texas and also make local changes to reduce global warming and climate change?