As we as a nation continue to be devastated by hurricanes and other natural disasters it is hard to understand how climate change is still not a universally accepted theory.
While hearing stories of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ravaging Texas and Florida, and other tropical storms wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, I am consistently taken aback when I remember that the leader of our nation — and essentially the free world — believes climate change is a hoax. Not only has he blamed the global temperature rising on China but he has also taken steps to undo legislation and dismantle efforts at reversing this phenomenon.
But in the wake of this most recent onslaught of severe weather, I am left wondering: when will climate change move from being a topic up for political debate to something people begin to confront as a reality, and actively work to fight?
According to Wayne Drash’s September 19, 2017 CNN article, there is a consensus among environmental scientists that although Harvey and Irma were not caused by climate change itself, they were greatly intensified by it. Factors like rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures allowed both storms to inflict more damage than hurricanes of their size and nature in the past. Hurricanes thrive in warm water and often intensify over patches of hot water.
In fact, as a result of a three-degree temperature increase in the global oceans, Harvey and Irma were able to gain significant traction, and become even more dangerous. As a result of rising sea levels, many areas of the United States and around the world have become more susceptible to harmful flooding. These two factors leave the U.S. in a vulnerable position. And, to top it all off, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leader claimed it would be “insensitive to talk about climate change” in the wake of these storms, and President Trump used hyperbole to mask the severity of the storms and the urgency needed for climate action.
In the wake of these environmental tragedies, it is important we support our fellow Americans. Relief for survivors and victims of these storms should not be used as a leveraging point in DACA negotiations nor in any other negotiation that may take place in the near future. We must continue to work together in supporting those affected by severe weather, while also working to limit the frequency and severity of these storms in the future.
While our current government officials seem to be actively working against progressive climate policy and action, it may feel useless or ineffective to rally together for structural change or commit to individually lowering your carbon footprint, but now more than ever is when this type of engagement is needed. Trump may have pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and set an international precedent on how the U.S. will act in regards to the environment, but other nations have re-committed, and are carrying the metaphorical weight of the world toward a better global climate.
There are several things we as Bates students can do to reduce our school’s environmental impact as well as our own. First, ride a bike or scooter or use those fine legs of yours to get around campus. If you need to drive, make sure to carpool and turn your engine off when you are not driving, limiting idling and the release of pollutants. Turn the light off in your room or the bathroom when its not in use. And, most importantly, recycle or return any paper, plastic, or cans you consume late on Saturday morning!