Our Opinion: The look of climate change in Louisiana

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It is difficult to determine what triggers a unique weather event, but put enough of them together and you get a pattern. A pattern that looks like climate change.

The extraordinary rainfall in southern Louisiana that has killed at least eight residents and forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes is the most extraordinary of eight events since May of last year that exceeded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predictions for an amount of precipitation that will occur once every 500 years. This may not be a result of climate change, but this is what climate change is expected to look like.

David Easterling, a director at the National Centers for Environmental Information, told The New York Times that the 31 inches of rain in parts of Louisiana is a once in a thousand years event according to the Centers. However, Dr. Easterling added that those predictions were made on the assumption that the climate was stable, which it no longer is because of climate change.

"This is exactly what scientists have been predicting," Vermont-based climate activist Bill McKibben told The Times." The basic physics are simple. Warm air holds more water vapor." When that saturated air hits cold air blizzards can be the result.

The dawdling of the United States and the nations of the world means that much of the damage that triggered climate change cannot be undone. Further damage can be lessened however, by increasing reliance on the green energy sources that don't heat up the atmosphere.

Beyond that, the National Flood Insurance Program will have to undergo a change in philosophy from helping people rebuild in flood- prone areas to helping them rebuild in safe places. Major efforts will have to be made to protect coastal cities from the rising tides. What Americans saw from Louisiana on their TVs and computers was horrific. But it was no fluke.


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