National Security and Climate Change

Sep 7, 2017 (San Diego) Many Americans believe threats against the United States are summarized in things like North Korea’s Kim Jun Un. Don’t get me wrong, a war in the Peninsula would quickly become a national security threat to the United States, and likely the worst war since World War Two. However, our political class keeps ignoring climate change at our peril. They keep under funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and disaster relief at our peril. They keep denying that significant changes must come in how we build infrastructure and ignoring the very clear need for mitigation. 

At the moment we have three hurricanes in the Atlantic, that would be Irma, that will cause catastrophic damage to Florida, and likely the Carolinas too. Right now the European model has it making landfall at or very near Miami, as in a bullseye. Then there is Katia, that will likely hit Veracruz in Mexico, thanks to a high in the United States, and then there is Jose. This is historic. Three hurricanes at the same time in the Atlantic. 

Earlier in the year we had three in the Pacific. Which shows that climate is becoming weirder. That was also a very rare event. 

The Dakotas are having a historic drought and the fire season in the west is far more impressive than usual. 

We cannot continue down this path of denial. The energy sector (in the United States that tends to translate to fossil fuels) most not dominate policy any longer. Their days as a dominating sector of the economy must give way to a transfer to renewables. We remain at over 400 part per million of CO2, a green house gas, in the atmosphere. 

This is truly a national security matter. 

Harvey is expected to cost the United States over $100 billion dollars. That is a low estimate in my opinion. We have no idea, yet, how much damage Irma will do to the United States. We know that it did  significant damage to the grid in Puerto Rico, not that many Americans care. Let’s not even go into the damage it did to Barbuda, or the US Virgin Islands. Let’s just concentrate on two major American cities that will suffer major damage within 15 days of each other. 

Right now there are millions on the move, incidentally. People are trying to get out of the area. We have yet, no idea, how much of the infrastructure will be damaged or destroyed, or how many lives. Suffice it to say, Miami has many tall buildings and many of those windows will likely not survive, which will complicate things. 

This will hit the American economy like a sledge hammer. Maybe this will get the attention of policy makers. After all, mere lives do not. But a recession, and one is possible, with two American cities heavily damaged by very strong events within 15 days should be a wake up call. 

The discussion of whether to rebuild or how, has to happen as well. Some of the housing tracks in both Houston and Florida are threatened directly by the rise of the oceans. It is also time for an American president, who denies climate change, to realize he is wrong. Maybe he will. His property at Mar-a-Lago might be on the path of a direct hit. This would be a direct hit by the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. Realize these words were also used for Superstorm Sandy. That was a mere Cat 3 when it hit New York City, which is one of the reasons that it was significant. The damage from that one came from the surging waters. 

Rush Limbaugh, whom yesterday was claiming that hurricanes are part of the liberal conspiracy to push the climate change agenda, whatever that is, happens to be in the predicted direct path of the storm. I am not one to wish anybody ill, but he will get a lesson in the power of Mother Nature. 

We have had three other Cat 5 storms in the Atlantic. This is historically. We are going to see the kind of a storm surge we have not seen since Andrew hit a similar section of Florida. Camille and the Labor Day storm of 1935, are the other two. 
For reference, Harvey, just a few days ago, hit as a Cat 4, with winds of 130 MpH winds. Irma is expected to hit with at least 150 MpH winds, if not higher. 

San Diego may be on the path of a storm. We had one in the 1980s, but with the weirding of the climate, we just may see not just the rare storm. In time, we will be further affected. Why our policy makers are implementing climate action plans. They are great. They reduce our local emissions. San Diego is part of a state that has policy makers at the top layers of government that believe in science. We need the same at the national level. Sure, we can afford to have one or two members of Congress who deny it. Maybe even one United States Senator, but science is not a liberal conspiracy. It is real. 

Before climate change denial we had a similar dynamic, driven by powerful economic interests, that lead and tobacco were not bad for you. These days we no longer have lead in household paint, for example, and tobacco is unfortunately a disease of poverty. However, both are no longer dominant with policy makers. We must ask, are Harvey and Irma a tipping point event? 


Categories: Climate Change, Science, Irma, Jose, Florida, Climate Change Denial, Policy

2 replies

  1. Bravo! Nadin, this is one of your best.

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