Do Recent Natural Disasters Indicate Climate Change?
When most people think of climate change, they envision rising temperatures. However, climate change does more than increase global temperatures. Temperature is one of the earth’s essential homeostatic principles, affecting all its cycles. Think about the importance of temperature in our own bodies, and how a couple of degrees can make us sick. So when temperatures are no longer stable, everything is liable to get thrown off. For example, winters can become more extreme as average temperatures rise. Yes, the Fall and Spring may disappear entirely while winters get colder and the summers get hotter. An article posted by BBC news says scientists found a relationship between climate change and global wind patterns, which has created a vortex of colder air flowing into the US in recent winters. I digress. The point is, global warming has a close relationship with weather patterns and thusly, natural disasters.
See, natural disasters and global warming fuel one another. Hurricanes, for instance, thrive off of warm water, moist air, and wind. As temperature increases, it is more likely for hurricanes to find footing. Likewise, hurricanes transfer heat from the ocean to the air by causing water to evaporate. So, hurricanes also contribute to increasing temperatures. You can see how these two create a dangerous snowball effect together. Many scientists have been forewarning this for years, and today we are witnessing the evidence.
Florida is experiencing the outcome of this formula for disaster because it’s a warm and humid area that is close to the water. One of the strongest hurricanes to hit American soil, hurricane Ian, reached the upper limits of Category 4. Keep in mind, the highest recorded hurricane rating is Category 5. It caused widespread flooding and destruction. Also, this isn’t the first occurrence; these ‘extreme’ hurricanes are becoming a trend. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hurricane intensity has gradually increased since 1950 along with surface ocean temperatures. Moreover, they consider the past five years of activity to be considered “above normal”. Since humans began recording hurricanes, that pattern of intensity has never been seen before. To put that into perspective a Category 4 or greater has made contact with the United States every year for the past five years. Ringing any alarm bells yet?
Tonga Volcanic Eruption
If you thought hurricanes were bad, then just wait. Scientists have discovered relationships between heavy storms and other natural disasters, too. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and even volcanoes can be triggered by heavy rain, sea-level changes, and/or strong winds. Often, natural disasters are closely related to one another. Experts can only speculate as to what caused Tonga to erupt. One thing is certain, these extreme conditions can shift tectonic plates. When the crust beneath a volcano cracks, it can trigger eruptions. Tonga caused several fatalities including from the tsunami afterward. However, the eruption itself is only one part of the problem.
Volcanic eruptions have the potential to cause lasting changes to the climate. NASA shared in a recent article how the blast from Tonga reached as far as 33 miles into the stratosphere, something never seen before. Thousands of gallons of water evaporated, sending enough aerosols into the atmosphere to raise the earth’s global temperature. Again we see how natural disasters and climate change relate to one another. All of these compounded factors are taking the human race down a very slippery slope. Are we already past the point of return?
Hope for the Future
As seems to be the case of human nature, we refuse to accept anything without physical evidence. We are blinded from envisioning future consequences simply because reasoning is not enough for us. Now that we can see the evidence of our collective impact on climate, is it already too late? Although we cannot be certain whether we’ve already surpassed the point from which the earth’s climate can recover, there is hope that we can slow down our cumulative impact on global warming. How? For starters, we can implement smarter technology in our society based on our awareness of efficiency. We can stop contributing to waste by adopting a caring and open-minded attitude. Being a bystander is no longer acceptable. We must all take personal responsibility in order to fight climate change with better habits.
There are also things we can do to manage the effects of climate change and natural disasters on society. While other people’s actions may be out of our control, we can control how we adapt to our environment. CBS News recently published a touching segment on a community in Florida that accomplished just that. During Hurricane Ian, one fully independent community known as Babcock Ranch managed to make it through with very minor damages. It’s a perfect model for storm resistance, being the first solar-powered town in America.
Babcock Ranch is more than just a neighborhood; it is a self-sustaining community. They have their own healthcare facilities, schools, shopping centers, EV stations, solar systems, and public transit. While most of Florida was left without power during and after the hurricane, the power never went out at Babcock Ranch. They were even able to open a storm shelter to provide for those nearby in need. Not to mention, only two solar panels needed repair from being hit by debris. Solar panels are designed to withstand strong wind and even hail. As a result, the residents had clean water, light, food, and even internet.
On top of keeping their community running, they also set an example of how to build smart in upcoming generations. What do I mean by this? Babcock Ranch was built with the vision of surviving storms, so they chose an area that was 25 feet above sea level. Consequently, they did not experience flooding. Many construction companies are still building in areas of low elevation, continuing to put homeowners at high risk due to greed. Living on the water may seem appealing, but builders and owners should take the local climate into account. Climate change and natural disasters mean rising sea levels and increased flooding. On the other hand, communities like Babcock Ranch will escape these situations experiencing very little damage in comparison.
BarrierEnergy hopes communities like this continue to prosper and grow. We hope to see more communities following suit in the near future. As enforcers of efficiency in the building sector, we understand why regulations are essential for the greater good. Together, let’s spread awareness about the importance of energy efficiency.