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KATIE ZERR: There are more ‘monster storms’ on the horizon

Are we now paying the price for years of ignoring warnings about climate change? Are we headed towards a generation of disastrous weather events that are triggered by human hands?
Scientists have long been warning us that warmer average temperatures will have long term effects on the world’s climate. According to the scientific research, as the global surface temperatures increase the possibility of more droughts and increased intensity of storms will likely occur.
As we watch our nightly weather forecasts or coverage of storms on the weather channel, the term warming ocean waters is often heard in the explanation of why these storms form.
In 2018 historical fires in California are the direct result of a years long drought. The drought is caused in part by a mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that has drifted closer to the West Coast.
On the East Coast, torrential rains this summer have caused historical flooding in states that lie in the path of another hurricane. These storms were fed by the warmer water temperatures of the ocean according to scientists.
Basic elementary school science taught us that higher temperatures lead to quicker evaporation of surface water. As scientists take that concept further, the warning that as more water vapor is evaporated into the atmosphere it becomes fuel for more powerful storms to develop. More heat in the atmosphere and warmer ocean surface temperatures can lead to increased wind speeds in tropical storms. Rising sea levels expose higher locations not usually subjected to the power of the sea and to the erosive forces of waves and currents.
As Hurricane Florence barrels towards the East Coast of the United States it seems that these monster storms, as the weather experts call them, are hitting this country at a furious pace. People in Puerto Rico and other islands in the region have not yet recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
In August 2017 Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and in 2012 it was Hurricane Sandy that destroyed part of the East Coast.
And as a terrible reminder of what weather phenomenon can do the memory of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rated the third worst hurricane in the history of hurricanes, is still fresh in our minds.
These storms have all happened in the past 15 years. They are all in the top worst hurricane disasters to hit this country, according to the science based website, How Things Work. They also make the top 10 lists in other categories, such as costliest, and most destructive on other sites.
What many of these lists have in common is that outside of these storms, the other so-called monster storms are sometimes a decade apart.
There were others that were close together, but until recently, the train of monster storms to hit this country were on much slower tracks. Scientists have been telling us there is a connection between long-term effects of climate change and weather. The decrease in sea ice and an increase in permafrost thawing, an increase in heat waves and heavy precipitation, and decreased water resources in semi-arid regions are all related to climate change and play roles in creating weather changes.
In this country, notable changes to our environment are being recorded at an alarming rate. Those include decreasing snowpack in the western mountains and shrinking glaciers across North America; increased frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves in cities that currently experience them; and wider swings in temperature, meaning colder winter temps and hotter summer temps.
Hurricane Florence is approaching North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, and evacuations are mandatory in many counties. We are bracing for the third monster storm to hit the United States in two years.
Is this the best time in our history to be cutting back regulations that have been put in place to regulate the issues that play a role in climate change, thus in weather?
These are science-based fact no matter what deniers are preaching. Deniers pay any so-called experts they want to write opinion pieces or make appearances on denier friendly networks to tout their “findings,” but hopefully the fact-based information will win in the long run.
Government scientists, global experts on climate and renown climatologist are all telling us this happening because of what we are doing to our planet. Even the government of China has realized what their industries were doing to the environment and are now enforcing regulations.
Some regulations do need to be cutback but not sweeping cuts made to satisfy greedy industrialists. We need to take our time and only cutback those that restrict unnecessarily.
We have made so much progress it is a shame to watch it go by the wayside. It is encouraging to see some industries are taking heed of the warnings and are not cutting back on changes based on recent regulations.
Hopefully common sense will top greed and we will continue to take steps to care for our planet that are based scientific information.
– Katie Zerr –