And today’s forecast is… natural disaster?

Many people believe that the catastrophic storms we have experienced in the past ten years can be directly tied to global warming. It is true that there have been many terrible and unusual storms in recent years, but are they just flukes or are they actually a result of a changing climate?  Regardless of the source, powerful storms are certainly becoming a more normal sight to see in the world.

This past week in class, we got the opportunity to talk on video with a professional climate scientist, Bruce Weilicki. During the video chat,  we asked him if he thought that hurricane Sandy was caused or affected by global warming. He said that it was too early to draw any rash conclusions. He said such a small increase in temperature is unlikely to make any large changes in a massive hurricane like Sandy. He did, however, say that he and his partners at NASA have been doing research on what a dramatic increase in temperature could do to major storms. After I asked him if he thought there would be any unusually large or apocalyptic events that would take place in the next five, ten or twenty years – he said it is very unlikely.  He indicated that the most change we would see is probably an average temperature increase of about one-half to one degree Fahrenheit and maybe a slight raise in sea level.

Now that major natural disasters are seemingly more common, it makes sense that the people of the world should start to prepare for such catastrophes. For example, New York City is right on the ocean and should have a subway system that can take a certain amount of flooding. However, just this week the New York City subway system flooded causing more damage than ever before to the system and disrupted transportation completely for some time. The tsunami in Japan just a year ago—while not related to global warming—is another example of not making necessary provisions. Thousands of people died, while some of those deaths could not have been prevented, several could have – if they had they been prepared. The biggest problem Japan still has is the nuclear power plant that was damaged so bad that it released radiation into the surrounding areas. This could have definitely been avoided, if the people at the power plant had made the plant more resistant to flooding.  I strongly believe that the whole world needs to pause for just a moment, and look at the possible weak points in their nations, their cities and their homes and work to fix them. By doing this, millions of lives could be saved from future natural disasters.


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