Tag Archives: hurricanes

The Atlantic hurricane season just started. It’s already breaking records.

As you read this, the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially started on June 1, is churning its way across southern Mexico. Meteorologists expect it to soon head northward, where it could gather strength over the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s unlikely that Cristobal will turn into a full-blown hurricane, but experts say it’s likely that the storm will slam into the Gulf Coast late this weekend or early next week.

Cristobal developed winds greater than 39miles per hour, the minimum for a named storm, on Tuesday — one day after the official start of the hurricane season. If that feels a bit early for the third named storm of the season to rear its head, that’s because it is. For the past six years straight, a named tropical storm has appeared in May, days or weeks ahead of the official start date. But the Atlantic doesn’t usually spawn so many powerful storms so fast: This is the first time the third named storm of the Atlantic season has arrived so early.

In 2019, the third named storm of the season arrived on August 20. That’s due in part to the fact that last year had an El Niño, a wind pattern that blows warm air into the Pacific Ocean and sucks cold water into the Atlantic, helping to suppress storms there. This year looks like it could develop into a La Niña year, when the opposite weather pattern occurs, creating conditions for more hurricanes to develop in the Atlantic Ocean. Ocean water warmed by rising global temperatures (read: climate change) in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea also contributes to the likelihood of an unusually active hurricane season. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s annual hurricane forecast predicts between 13 and 19 named storms including six to 10 hurricanes (compared to the average six).

“In modern history, this is unusual from the standpoint that you typically see the third storm in August,” Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather’s lead hurricane expert, told Grist. Warm water, he said, is the main culprit. “You only have to take the temperature up maybe a half a degree Celsius for it to be more optimal for storm development.” Kottlowski said ocean surface temperatures in the Atlantic have risen since 1995, something he attributes in part to the way the ocean naturally cycles water but is also tied to rising global temperatures in recent years.

Right now, Kottlowski expects Cristobal to move through the western portion of the Yucatán over the next day or so, move off the west coast of the Yucatán, and then track toward the center of the Gulf, making landfall somewhere along the Louisiana coast late Sunday. While it’s more likely that Cristobal will make landfall as a strong tropical storm than a hurricane, Kottlowski says flooding will be widespread. “It’s very possible storm surge values could be well above three feet, perhaps as high as six feet, from this storm,” he said. “That will be enough to inundate a good part of the coastal area of Louisiana.” Flooding could penetrate deep into the state, he said, hitting areas that were flooded last year during Hurricane Barry.

When hurricanes hit coastal states frequently affected by extreme weather, communities of color and low-income neighborhoods — often situated in low-lying areas with aging infrastructure — suffer most. Louisiana is no exception. After Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005, black residents of New Orleans and the surrounding areas were far more likely than whites to say they experienced 7 out of 10 hurricane-related hardships.

John Morales, a weather reporter and meteorologist for NBC6 in Miami who frequently highlights the connection between hurricanes and climate change for his viewers, says he is troubled by recent research that shows a statistically significant increase in the proportion of tropical storms that become major hurricanes globally. “We do know that out of the hurricanes that are forming, a greater percentage of these are becoming category 3, 4, and 5,” Morales said. He recalls the 28-storm 2005 hurricane season, when forecasters ran out of names for storms and had to start pulling letters from the Greek alphabet. “By the end of that hurricane season I was exhausted,” he said. “To think that, right now, we might be dealing with 20 storms, that is a significantly active hurricane season — it’s going to be really exhausting.”


The Atlantic hurricane season just started. It’s already breaking records.

Posted in Accent, alo, ALPHA, FF, G & F, GE, ONA, The Atlantic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Atlantic hurricane season just started. It’s already breaking records.

4 ways the melting Arctic is wreaking havoc near you

Invest in nonprofit journalism today.Donate now and every gift will be matched through 12/31.

The Arctic is in the throes of what sea-ice scientist Peter Wadhams called a “death spiral.” As the region’s once abundant ice melts, giving way to a less reflective surface, the Arctic heats up faster — now at a rate that is double the rest of the planet.

“The ice is much thinner and lighter and broken and kind of slushy,” Jennifer Francis, a scientist who focuses on the Arctic at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told Grist. “It’s been described as rotten.”

The Arctic is heading toward irreversible melting and ecosystem destruction, according to the annual Arctic Report Card released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The researchers found that the Arctic has lost nearly 95 percent of its oldest ice. On top of that, the once-pristine region is becoming quite dirty: In addition to a growing toxic algae problem, the Arctic Ocean now has the highest concentration of microplastics of any ocean on Earth. (The tiny, barely visible plastics pose a threat to any seabirds or marine life that accidentally eat them.)

For people living up north, the warming Arctic has immediate effects. Coastal Arctic communities, including indigenous peoples, are literally losing land as coastal ice (also called “shorefast ice”) melts. “The decline of shorefast ice is exposing communities to increased storm surge, coastal flooding, and loss of shoreline,” Donald Perovich, a professor of engineering at Dartmouth and a contributor to the report, said in a press conference.

For Americans in the continental United States, though, these changes in the Arctic can feel far away. It’s hard to imagine they’ll have much effect on daily life here. However, the implications are far-reaching. We’re not just talking sea-level rise: The melting Arctic is disturbing Earth’s weather system, causing profound changes to weather beyond the North Pole.

“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” said Judah Cohen, an MIT climatologist who wasn’t involved in the report.

Drought, heatwaves, and wildfires

Warning: You’re about to learn a lot about the polar jet stream, a river of wind that travels around the Northern hemisphere. The air in the north wants to flow to the south, where the layer of air is hotter and thicker (hot air expands, remember?). The now-warmer Arctic makes it so there’s less of a pressure difference, so what once was a mountain in the sky becomes a gentle hill.

OK, OK, so the atmospheric hill in the sky is less steep. So what? Like a river moving down a soft incline, the jet stream moves more slowly and more erratically. In the United States, these changes in the jet stream are linked to a persistent “ridge” — like a hump in the sky. The “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” as it’s come to be known, causes weather patterns to linger, “perpetuating drought, heatwaves, and extensive wildfires across much of western North America,” according to the report.

Nor’easters and severe cold

A strong jet stream ridge is often associated with a trough, an elongated low pressure system. The trough in the eastern United States may have earned itself a new nickname. “I figured the trough should have a name too, because it’s very persistent,” Francis said. “So I call that the Terribly Tenacious Trough.”

Francis likens the trough to leaving the refrigerator door open. It allows “frigid Arctic air to plunge southward, bringing misery to areas ill-prepared to handle it,” Francis wrote in an article in The Conversation. This phenomenon, according to the NOAA report, brought a “parade of destructive nor’easters along the eastern seaboard” in the winters of 2013-14 and 2017-18. Most notably, it led to what has been dubbed the “bomb cyclone,” an intense blizzard along the East Coast in January 2018.


When a ridge becomes very sharp, it can break off and form an eddy that runs counter to the ridge’s current. This phenomenon is known as “atmospheric blocking,” and it locks weather systems in place. “It’s like a traffic jam and in the air,” Cohen said.

Atmospheric blocking brings all kind of severe weather, including the slower, more intense hurricanes we’ve seen of late. Harvey and Florence, which hovered over the coast for days and dumped trillions of gallons of water, were dangerously stuck in place thanks to a “block.”

Even more climate change

As the warming Arctic sloughs off more layers of ice, it threatens to release stored carbon into the atmosphere — thus contributing to global warming and making extreme weather even worse.

This begins on a micro level: When the ground thaws, it activates microbes in the soil. “They start breathing out carbon dioxide or methane, depending on the situation,” said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “It’s a feedback because if you put more of that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that warms up things further. Right now the question is, ‘OK, is when does that kick in?’”

The Arctic as we know it is slipping away, and there are still a lot of unknowns about what that means for all of us. “Exactly how the northern meltdown will ‘play ball’ with other changes and natural fluctuations in the system presents many questions that will keep scientists busy for years to come,” Francis wrote in the report, “but it’s becoming ice-crystal-clear that change in the far north will increasingly affect us all.”

Dig this article?

Support nonprofit journalism by making a donation today and all gifts will be matched

. A little bit goes a long way. 

Help us raise $50,000 by December 31! 

Continue reading:

4 ways the melting Arctic is wreaking havoc near you

Posted in alo, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 4 ways the melting Arctic is wreaking havoc near you

1,656 pages too long? Climate report coauthor Katharine Hayhoe has 3 takeaways.

Subscribe to The Beacon

The 1,656-page National Climate Assessment can feel overwhelming if not broken up into actionable-sized pieces — not unlike climate change itself. Thankfully, report coauthor Katharine Hayhoe offered up some key takeaways in a webinar with the nonprofit news organization Climate Central on Monday. Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and political science professor at Texas Tech University, focused her presentation on a core message: Climate change is impacting everyone now.

“The myth that the science isn’t real, or that it’s something up for debate, is not the most dangerous myth that the largest number of people have bought into,” Hayhoe said. “There’s a belief that is just as pernicious: that global warming does not matter to me.”

To change this mindset, Hayhoe recommended shifting the narrative away from polar bears in the melting Arctic to how climate change is shaping people’s lives today, from wildfires in California to severe flooding in New York.

The new report offers the most up-to-date assessment of how climate change is affecting the United States. As Hayhoe said, it tackles “the myth that climate change is happening to people far away.” Three of her takeaways:

1. “There are already climate refugees in the United States.”

Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles, home to members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, has been swallowed by rising tides. In 1955 the island was 22,000 acres; today it’s only 320. Last year, state officials announced that the tribal nation would be evacuated to higher grounds.

However, many other indigenous communities face significant barriers to receiving relocation funding, as the report details. Slow-onset disasters like coastal erosion and melting permafrost deeply effect communities over time, but they often don’t qualify for relocation funding. The report highlights the need for more community-driven relocation plans.

2. “Hurricanes are getting stronger, bigger, and slower, meaning they can sit over us for longer.”

If you’ve noticed hurricanes getting worse in recent years, it’s not your imagination. Climate change is bringing wetter and more intense hurricanes to the United States. For example, one recent study showed that climate change made Hurricane Florence 50 percent worse. The storm dumped enough water to fill the Chesapeake Bay.

3. “Climate change hits us in the Achilles’ heel.”

Peering into a climate-changed future is a bit like looking into a fun-house mirror where all of your worst features are accentuated. Texas, for example, is susceptible to a host of climate hazards, from heatwaves to hurricanes. It’s experienced more costly weather disasters than any other state. Climate change will only boost these extremes, bringing even more drought, flooding, and high temperatures.

You may have heard that everything’s bigger in Texas. That’s certainly true of climate change.

Taken from:  

1,656 pages too long? Climate report coauthor Katharine Hayhoe has 3 takeaways.

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, G & F, GE, Holiday shopping, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 1,656 pages too long? Climate report coauthor Katharine Hayhoe has 3 takeaways.

A mental health crisis continues to unfold in Puerto Rico

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

For the first 36 hours after Hurricane Maria, 5-year-old Keydiel and his mother Shaina were trapped by the toppled trees that blocked the doors to their home in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.

Eventually, neighbors cleared the sturdy tamarind trees, cutting by hand because there was no electricity. The mother and son emerged to find an island devoured by 155 mph winds and harsh rains.

Their immediate concerns were physical — finding food and water — but bubbling below were anxieties and trauma that would endure for months.

“It was difficult to find himself [Keydiel] in a situation where he didn’t have a way out. It was difficult for me,” Shaina told the Guardian through an interpreter, while sitting at a table outside her son’s classroom. “As a mom, I was very stressed out and I got anxious because I wasn’t able to solve things so quickly. I felt impotent.”

Keydiel’s school sits just below hillside forests that are finally a dense, dark green after Maria twisted them into a tangling mess of trees stripped of leaves and bark. This sign of recovery — one Puerto Ricans craved after their green island turned brown in the storm — is betrayed by house-sized patches of mud from landslides and the remains of pulverized structures.

Down in the valley, where crisp, salt-flecked coastal air drifts in from the Caribbean Sea just over the hills, Keydiel’s school had survived the storm. It was closed for months but eventually provided refuge for children desperate for everything to be like it was before.

Ten months after Maria, Shaina and other Puerto Ricans face a mental health crisis that stems from something frighteningly simple: One powerful hurricane robbed millions of Americans of reliable access to drinkable water, food, medical care, electricity, phones, and internet.

These basic necessities are still luxuries in the hardest-hit parts of the island and took longer than expected to return to the rest of the island, but nowhere is life the same. This disruption to daily life has exacerbated feelings of despair, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Gary Shaye, Save the Children’s interim director in Puerto Rico who also responded to the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, said this daily impact distinguishes Maria from other natural disasters because it is a “living emergency.”

“The only other thing like this would be some conflict situations,” Shaye said, alluding to the agency’s work in the Middle East with Syrians “when you see people in a camp and they have a cellphone and every day they don’t know what’s happening to their house, their family, who died — and they live with it every day. Whereas other types of emergencies don’t wipe out an entire island.”

Walking around ‘zombie-eyed’

Mental healthcare was an issue in Puerto Rico well before Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017.

The island’s decade-long recession provoked high unemployment rates and migration that separated families, a distressing mix for Puerto Ricans — especially those underserved by the island’s strained healthcare system.

All these issues were exacerbated by Maria, which robbed every person on the island of their daily routine for weeks, if not months.

Pharmacy closures deprived people of access to prescription antidepressants and antipsychotics. Veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Korea reported that the sounds of the storm and scenes of destruction triggered post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that had been managed.

From November 2017 through January 2018, the island’s suicide hotline, Línea PAS, saw a 246 percent increase in calls from people who said they had attempted suicide compared with the same time a year earlier. There was also an 83 percent jump in people who said they had thought about attempting suicide.

The hurricane left a landscape of flattened homes, broken glass, downed trees, snapped cables languishing in water, and streams of people in shock searching for food, water, or loved ones. Those who were there in the weeks after the storm recall seeing people walking around “zombie-eyed.”


The unsafe conditions kept children across the island largely indoors, where they couldn’t do activities that needed light or electricity. Because so many people had moved in with extended families for the hurricane, children removed from their neighborhoods were surrounded by strangers. Streets clogged with debris and crushed glass posed a long-term hazard.

Schools were closed for months, and even when they reopened, classes didn’t immediately begin and not every teacher had returned.

It was a recipe for trauma that can have long-lasting effects, according to Barbara Ammirati, Save the Children’s deputy director of Puerto Rico programs. She has led the implementation of psychosocial programs for children in U.S. disaster zones since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Shaina said Keydiel “went a little bit into a crisis” after the hurricane. He had no one to play with until late November, when school returned. Back in class, he was abnormally aggressive.

Shaina, meanwhile, hesitated every morning at 7:30 a.m. when she dropped him off at school, worried about how his food would be prepared because two months after the hurricane, drinkable water was still scarce. Rumors that rats drinking from a local river had later died petrified those who had been cooking and cleaning in the stream.

Hypervigilance is normal for parents after a natural disaster because of the parents’ own stress, explained Ammirati.

By late June, Keydiel and Shaina had shown signs of improvement, something Shaina credits to Save the Children, which deployed child protection programs to 32 municipalities, including Yabucoa.

Keydiel participated in programs that seek to mitigate trauma by improving children’s coping abilities and bringing out their inner resilience. The nonprofit also hosts workshops to train and support caregivers, who are often just as severely affected by the disaster as children.

‘She’d cry every morning, she’d cry every night’

Yabucoa was the site of the hurricane’s first landfall, where at least 1,500 homes were damaged and 60 percent still lacked electricity in May.

At least 19 students said they had considered suicide, according to Yabucoa city council. In May, a man climbed an electricity tower there and threatened to throw himself off in protest at the lack of power. And a preliminary study of 34 families in Yabucoa showed 74 percent of participants would like to receive psychological services.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded $6.7 million to Puerto Rico for its emergency mental health services assistance and training program, which it usually provides for one to two months, but was in place in Puerto Rico until March. FEMA also provided more than $12.6 million for a similar mental health program to run until December that includes services for people who need long-term counseling, children and the elderly.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also loosened restrictions on existing block grants, offered technical assistance, and provided materials including 300 disaster kits and 5,000 suicide prevention wallet cards.

But places like Yabucoa are also getting significant support from the island’s mental health professionals and international nonprofits, including Save the Children, who pay regular visits to the area.

A woman in Yabucoa after Hurricane Maria. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP / Getty Images

It was a Save the Children course where Alejandra, a cheery 9-year-old, said she and her classmates discussed what they were afraid of and how to help each other if they were mad or upset. “We were all sad it was ending because it was a lot of fun,” she said through an interpreter in an interview at her school.

Alejandra was chatty, and danced around her school’s outdoor hallways after the interview. The warm, thick air warned of an incoming tropical rainstorm that would cause electric outages throughout the afternoon — the new normal across Puerto Rico.

Her parents, Yeliza and Juan, said her bubbly attitude was a dramatic turn from how she was in the winter, when the family fled Puerto Rico for Florida.

More than two months after the hurricane, they did not have electricity and drinkable water was difficult to come by. Alejandra had been a dedicated student who took pride in her good grades, but school was closed through late November.

Juan said in a state of “complete desperation” they left for Florida.

They returned to Puerto Rico less than three weeks later because Alejandra was struggling at her school, which had other newly transported Puerto Rican students but no teachers who could speak Spanish. Alejandra said she didn’t feel safe at school and was very sad because she spent most of her time indoors with her older cousin.

“She’d cry every morning, she’d cry every night,” Yeliza said. “She didn’t want to go to school.”

Juan had found work and the family was living with relatives, but they still couldn’t get used to the new place, so they came back. “Now we’re here, battling it out,” Juan said.

Power returned to their home in April, though Alejandra pointed out that the electricity still goes out “now and then.” Her mother added: “But at least we can watch TV every day,” prompting claps from her young daughter.

Providers need psychological support, too

Ammirati said the existing network of mental health professionals in Puerto Rico was strong, but because the scope of devastation was so enormous, those providers needed psychological support too, like on an airplane when passengers are instructed to put an oxygen mask on themselves before helping children.

At one school in Yabucoa, a Save the Children caregivers workshop for teachers had the entire staff in tears. A course instructor, Tina Tirado, said teachers there told her they despaired at the lack of electricity, were distressed about not having their normal lives back and had a lack of hope about the future.

To address this issue, the island’s existing network of mental health professionals and educators made alliances with local universities, clinicians across the globe, NGOs, and city governments.

New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sent clinicians to train nearly 1,000 people, mostly school staff, in psychological first aid. The department’s deputy commissioner, Oxiris Barbot, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said city workers heard “bone-chilling stories about people losing family members to suicide.”

“Teachers having to act on behalf of students to prevent parents from killing themselves in front of their kids,” Barbot said. “Just really traumatic events that even hearing them recounted by individuals months later, you can see how emotionally affected they are by the ongoing devastation of Hurricane Maria.

“This situation has brought into stark relief for me, that in this modern age, in the United States, we have to talk about the basicness of electricity and clean water and essential public health needs of a community,” Barbot said. “I never thought six months after a disaster, I would still have to focus on that.”

A sense of community remains strong

Despite this, Barbot and other mental health professional see signs of hope.

“Part of what we learned in addition to the hunger that there was for the basic skills was also about the resiliency of the human spirit,” Barbot said. “Even though they had gone through this tremendous devastation, they still had a sense of community and connectedness and commitment to their jobs as educators, to their calling as protectors of children to kind of show up for them and create a semblance of normalcy.”

This was on display at a school in Yabucoa for children between 18 months and 14 years. While showing off student-grown watermelon, pepper, and tomato plants and newly cleaned classrooms, Principal Maraida spoke about the army of parents who had helped her rebuild the campus, which was closed to its 150 students for 103 days.

She ignored tables and chairs in a classroom for toddlers and instead told her story while sitting on the classroom floor, which she said “is where everything begins.”

One of the school’s parent helpers, Melissa, had moved her husband, daughter, and niece into her parent’s house ahead of the hurricane because their property was sturdier. It was clearly the right decision, as pictures of her own home after the hurricane show a building that looks like it was picked up and smashed into the hill it was built on. She later found the family’s mattresses down the hill from their home.

Along with losing everything she owns, Melissa’s house had only got electricity back in late June — 290 days after it first went out.

But Maraida said Melissa had done everything possible to help the school, even after giving birth to her now 3-month-old baby. “She’ll slaughter pigs if you want her to,” Maraida said.

Melissa explained that the school was important for her daughter, Sonielys, who requires special education courses. Sonielys, 10, also went through Save the Children programs and was calm when power went out in a classroom during an interview.

She made an eerie, undulating “wooooh” noise to describe what the hurricane sounded like and showed no signs of fear as she recalled nonstop rain and not being allowed to go to school for weeks. “I learned that we’re all the same but some things are different,” Sonielys said through an interpreter.

Maraida was proud as she spoke of the work Melissa and other enthusiastic parents accomplished, but when asked about mental health issues in the community, she crumbled.

“We all have that friction sometimes, because the situation is not simple, it is a little bit complicated,” she said, crying. “I myself have a lot of trouble because I’m in charge. Because I am the leader, when I see that things don’t function I want them to function. I try to think positive but it’s a little bit hard.”

She described working as a contractor, lobbying the island and federal governments for help, while also caring for her daughter as a single mom, and for her father, who is in chemotherapy for cancer. She said: “I am staying here and I’m giving it to the end.”

Read this article: 

A mental health crisis continues to unfold in Puerto Rico

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A mental health crisis continues to unfold in Puerto Rico

Caribbean leaders beg Trump to act on climate change

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Caribbean states and territories have rounded on the Trump administration for dismantling the United States’ response to climate change, warning that greenhouse gas emissions must be sharply cut to avoid hurricanes and sea-level rise threatening the future of their island idylls.

The onset of this year’s hurricane season has seen leaders in the region tell the Guardian that President Trump needs to grasp the existential threat they face. Rising temperatures and increased precipitation caused by climate change is strengthening hurricanes, researchers have found, even as the overall number of storms remains steady.

“In 2017 we saw some of the most devastating and destructive hurricanes we’ve seen in our history,” said Selwin Hart, Barbados’ ambassador to the United States. “This needs to be recognized.

“This isn’t some scientific debate, it’s a reality with loss of life implications. We need the U.S. to be back at the table and engage. It’s imperative. We wouldn’t have a Paris climate agreement without the U.S. and we need them back now.”

Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane before slamming into the Caribbean and the United States in September, causing more than 130 deaths in places such as Barbuda, Saint Martin, Barbados, and the United States. This storm was swiftly followed by Hurricane Maria, which obliterated much of Dominica and caused a widespread, ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, leaving thousands dead.

“Even before the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we could already see the effects of coastal erosion, and even the loss of some islands,” said Ricardo Rosselló, governor of Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory is part of an alliance with several states, including New York and California, that have committed to addressing climate change absent the federal government. “Puerto Rico remains in a more vulnerable situation than other states. It is expected that some of the initial effects of climate change will be seen in Puerto Rico,” said Rosselló, who called Trump’s climate policies “a mistake.”

During the 2015 Paris climate talks, Caribbean nations were among the loose coalition of low-lying countries that successfully pushed the international community to aim to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7F) beyond pre-industrial levels.

This aspiration, which would provide many island states the hope of remaining viable in the face of sea-level rise, drought, and powerful storms, is currently far from likely, with a recent U.N. report warning the picture would be “even bleaker” if the Trump administration follows through with its vow to remove the United States from the Paris deal.

The withdrawal from Paris would take three years, but in the meantime the Trump administration is working to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era strategy to cut carbon dioxide, delay new vehicle emissions standards, open up new land and ocean to oil and gas drilling, and even put in place a set of subsidies that would prop up the ailing coal industry.

“The U.S. is a major player in the world and it needs to lead — we depend on it to be a moral voice on issues where people are vulnerable,” said Darren Henfield, foreign minister of the Bahamas. “We really hope the U.S. readjusts its position. It seems there will be doubters until we start completely losing islands.”

Henfield said Bahamians have become “dramatically aware” of climate change following a series of hurricanes that have hit or brushed the archipelago in recent years. The country has attempted to accelerate its transition to renewable energy although it faces the conundrum of relying economically upon tourists, borne on huge cruise ships that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.

“We are being forced to put up sea walls to push back the rising tides,” Henfield said. “We are very exposed and we could see the swallowing of the Bahamas by sea-level rise. We don’t have much room for people, there’s nowhere for people to move. Climate change will exacerbate the issue of refugees.

“I don’t know what influences the mind of President Trump but the world will be negatively impacted by not dealing with climate change. We always talk to our neighbors in the North and part of our foreign policy is to sensitize them and the international community to the threat we face.”

But while Caribbean states plead for climate assistance, particularly from the United States, they are also looking at how to adapt to a new environment. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, a coalition of island countries that spread in an arc south of the British Virgin Islands, has turned its attention to looming challenges such as food security, coastal village relocation, and new building designs in order to deal with rising temperatures and seas.

“Dominica was a real wake-up call for us, it virtually got washed away,” said Didacus Jules, director general of the OECS. “We know the impacts are going to be increasingly catastrophic and we need to plan for that. We need to do things completely differently in order to protect life and limb.”

Didacus said he was alarmed by the U.S. reversal on climate change. “We are very disturbed by what is going on, it’s a matter we’ll deal with aggressively in terms of diplomacy,” he said. “We will work with other island nations to make ourselves heard.”

However, many in the Caribbean fear the window of time to avert the worst is rapidly closing. Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, addressed the U.N. last September in strikingly bleak terms, describing himself as coming “straight from the front line of the war on climate change.”

“Heat is the fuel that takes ordinary storms — storms we could normally master in our sleep — and supercharges them into a devastating force,” Skerrit said. “Now, thousands of storms form on a breeze in the mid-Atlantic and line up to pound us with maximum force and fury. We as a country and as a region did not start this war against nature. We did not provoke it. The war has come to us.”

Skerrit said the hurricane left Dominica with flattened homes, smashed water pipes, hospitals without power, wrecked schools, and ruined crops. “The desolation is beyond imagination,” he said. “The stars have fallen. Eden is broken. We are shouldering the consequences of the actions of others.

“There is little time left for action. While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action and we need it now.”

More – 

Caribbean leaders beg Trump to act on climate change

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, Hipe, LG, ONA, OXO, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Caribbean leaders beg Trump to act on climate change

This year’s global hurricane boom could go into overdrive

The powerful weather pattern known as El Niño has been blamed for massive wildfires, crippling droughts, and global food shortages. And it’s looking increasingly likely that another one is on the way.

The latest outlook from the National Weather Service, out Thursday, says there’s a 70 percent chance that El Niño will arrive before the end of the year. Summertime outlooks for El Niño are generally pretty accurate, so it’s a big deal that the weather pattern is still in the forecast.

Another El Niño would carry far-reaching consequences for the world’s weather, one of which may have already arrived: Hurricanes and typhoons have been popping up more often than normal this year. (Both are place-specific names; the meteorological term for these storms is tropical cyclone.) El Niño warms the waters of the Pacific Ocean, providing additional fuel for tropical cyclones and increasing their activity by about 15 percent.

As of Thursday, according to Grist’s analysis of available weather data, cyclone activity in the Pacific Ocean is running about 42 percent above normal; in the Indian Ocean, it’s about 40 percent above normal. But in the Atlantic, it’s a whopping 370 percent above normal. Some of this is just random chance, but at least in the Pacific, the early signs of El Niño have already arrived.

All this has already led to several cyclone disasters in a season that’s just getting started.

In May, Cyclone Mekunu struck Oman, bringing two years’ worth of rainfall in a few hours and creating a huge swath of temporary lakes in one of the driest deserts on Earth. This week, more than 600,000 people were evacuated in China’s Fujian province before Typhoon Maria made landfall. Meanwhile storm-weary Puerto Rico received a scare from Hurricane Beryl, before it fizzled shortly after reaching the Caribbean.

Earlier this month, Typhoon Prapiroon kicked off a record-breaking torrential downpour in southern Japan. More than 70 inches of rain have fallen — about four-months worth in 11 days — a precipitation level on par with what Texas experienced during Hurricane Harvey last year. More than 200 people have died so far as a result, and the damage is so widespread that Japanese officials are comparing it to the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

To be clear, El Niño is a natural, cyclical phenomenon that the Pacific Ocean has undergone for millennia. And just because there’s an El Niño brewing doesn’t mean every rainstorm everywhere is connected to it. But there’s growing evidence that climate change is starting to make stronger El Niños happen more often. And that evidence, combined with the fact that climate change is increasing cyclone-related rainfall intensity anyway, is easily enough implicate human activity in the worst of  floods that occur against the backdrop of an El Niño year.

We need to look back only to 2015 — the last visit from El Niño — to find the busiest tropical cyclone season in recorded history. So far, this year is just a storm or two off that pace.

Over the past 15 years, the National Weather Service has called for an impending El Niño in their July outlooks six times. They’ve been wrong only once, in 2012. Sure, they could be wrong this year, but don’t bet on it. If the building El Niño arrives, global air temperatures will surge, lagging a few months behind the warmer oceans. That would give 2019 a good shot at knocking off 2016 as the warmest year on record. With a strong El Niño, global temperatures might even tiptoe across the 1.5 degree-Celsius mark — temporarily crossing a major milestone that climate campaigners are fighting to prevent.

View article – 

This year’s global hurricane boom could go into overdrive

Posted in alo, Anchor, Citizen, FF, G & F, GE, LG, ONA, The Atlantic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on This year’s global hurricane boom could go into overdrive

Hundreds of mayors stand up to Scott Pruitt over climate change.

Original source: 

Hundreds of mayors stand up to Scott Pruitt over climate change.

Posted in alo, Anchor, Citizen, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, organic, PUR, Safer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hundreds of mayors stand up to Scott Pruitt over climate change.

Hurricane survivors are still dealing with the emotional toll of 2017’s horrific storms.

Originally from: 

Hurricane survivors are still dealing with the emotional toll of 2017’s horrific storms.

Posted in alo, Anchor, Broadway, Casio, Citizen, FF, G & F, GE, ONA, PUR, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hurricane survivors are still dealing with the emotional toll of 2017’s horrific storms.

Superfund sites are in danger of flooding, putting millions of Americans at risk.

Excerpt from:

Superfund sites are in danger of flooding, putting millions of Americans at risk.

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, ONA, Pines, PUR, sustainable energy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Superfund sites are in danger of flooding, putting millions of Americans at risk.

Puerto Rico’s governor called for a recount of Hurricane Maria deaths.

Read More: 

Puerto Rico’s governor called for a recount of Hurricane Maria deaths.

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Puerto Rico’s governor called for a recount of Hurricane Maria deaths.