Historic Flooding in South Carolina Illustrates the Consequences of Climate Change

Former Vice President Al Gore spoke in Vermont this past Tuesday at UVM. He highlighted the storms in recent times and compared the strength of these storms to a baseball player who uses steroids. He said that scientists used to say that no single event could be tied to climate change but that this is no longer the case.

Scientists say that all of the storms and draughts that are hitting the world are strengthened by climate change. Climate change began during the industrial revolution of the late 1800s according to Al Gore. “After World War II it really started taking off,” Gore said.

“The cumulative amount of man made global warming pollution now traps as much extra heat in the atmosphere as would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima class atomic bombs going off every day,” Gore said.

More destruction is coming, and it’s time we start planning. Gore said last year was the 38th year in a row warmer than the 20th century average. Fourteen of the last fifteen years were the hottest on record with 2015 on course to being the hottest year ever recorded.

Gore said much of the heat is being absorbed by the ocean and this is creating fiercer storms. “When you had super typhoon Haiyan a little over a year ago. That typhoon crossed ocean areas that were much warmer than normal. It became the most destructive typhoon ever to make land fall. Thousands of people killed, 4 million homeless refugees as a result. Some of them still not back into homes.”

Gore said the water cycle is profoundly disrupted. “We all learned as kids that the water vapor comes off the oceans and gets in the air and then it falls as precipitation onto the land and rushes back to the sea through the creeks and streams and river. As the heat in the ocean increases the amount of water vapor going into the sky increases significantly. We now have between four and five percent extra humidity world wide because of global warming. And the warmer air holds more water and that means when the storm conditions release the moisture there is much more that comes down.”

“Not all of the moisture that falls to the ground originates in the part of the sky directly above where it falls. These storms reach out often 2000 kilometers and funnel the moisture to the point where the storm releases it.”

This is what happened in South Carolina. It happened in Houston Texas. It happened in Utah. The events are adding up. Vermont will some day be faced with a refugee crisis and how will we respond?

I propose that we be prepared to welcome up to 100,000 refugees. It is up to our government leaders and business leaders to decide how to prepare. Every day we’re putting 110 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

“There are longer intervals between the downpours making the droughts even worse, and during those intervals, the same heat that puts the water vapor from the oceans into the sky also sucks the soil moisture out of the land,” Gore said.

There is hope, but we must act quickly to curb the amount of carbon dioxide we are releasing into the atmosphere. The weatherpeople don’t talk about climate change every time they forecast warmer than average temperatures. This, too, should change.


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