Unprecedented flooding has again struck Texas in the Houston-Beaumont region. At least 2 people have died as up to 48 inches of rain have fallen in some areas. Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center is tracking 11 tropical storms worldwide and young people, led by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, are protesting climate change denial in 150 cities worldwide. Ironically, the southeastern US, which is the world political center of climate change denial, is also among the most vulnerable to its dangers and, so far, among the hardest hit.
Tropical storm Imelda formed close to shore in the Gulf of Mexico last week and rolled slowly onto land where it stalled, dropping vast amounts of rainfall across an area still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017. Harvey caused at least 88 deaths and cost $125 billion in damage, making it the second worst such storm to strike the US since Katrina. So far, it appears that much of the area being affected by Irma is suffering worse flooding than Harvey caused.
Meanwhile, the US National Hurricane Center is tracking 11 tropical storms worldwide. There are currently 5 named storms in the Atlantic and more forming now off the Cape Verde Islands which is the region where most such storms are generated. Right now, the jet stream is pushing most of the Atlantic storms out to sea and toward the far north Atlantic where they will dissipate hopefully without striking populated areas, but this could change at any time.
Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, who brought attention to the pollution caused by air travel by crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat visited the US Congress on Thursday where she made a clear and articulate case that it is past time to face climate change reality. China and most of Europe are attempting to do just this, but the governments of countries like the US, Brazil and India actively deny the problem and refuse to act. In his prophetic 1985 book Nature’s End, Whitley Strieber described not only the fires that ravaged Malibu in 2018, but also the burning of the Amazon rain forest that occurred in 2019.
In anticipation of the UN Climate Summit to be held next week, young people are taking to the streets in 150 cities around the world, including cities across the US, in response to Greta Thunberg’s call that “climate change is the defining issue of our time.”
In the US, most political power is held by climate change deniers, led by the president who, when presented in November of 2018 with a report from the National Climate Assessment, a consortium of 13 federal agencies overseen by the US Global Change Research Program, said that he didn’t believe it and blamed China and Japan for global warming. Actually, both countries are in the forefront of climate change action while the US lags behind. China, the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, is on track to reach its 2020 reduction target, but because of its extensive dependence on coal to generate power, its emissions will continue to increase until at least 2030. Despite government inaction in the US, CO2 emissions decreased in 2019 and are expected to continue to do so as state mandated emissions programs and public action continue to aid in the process. However, along with other programs designed to roll back pollution controls, the administration’s recent cancellation of California’s special mandate to control auto emissions in the state, if successful, will eventually cause emissions to increase again.