EARTH MEANDERS: Hurricane Katrina and Catastrophic Climate Change August 28, 2005 10:16 PM
Hurricane Katrina and Catastrophic Climate Change
Deadly Storm Provides Vision of the Human Family's Future
Earth Meanders by Dr. Glen Barry
August 28, 2005
Extraordinary storm events such as Hurricane Katrina now battering the
United States' Gulf Coast are becoming more commonplace in an Earth
undergoing climate change. This historic event foreshadows global
ecological collapse and suggests we are at or near the tipping point of
abrupt climate change.
Just as New Orleans is poised to be decimated by Hurricane Katrina, the
Earth is poised to be consumed by climate change. Predicted impacts of
climate change - including extreme weather, rising seas, failing crops,
and wildfires - will be abrupt and deadly. Killer storms of unheard of
strength are the future courtesy of our consuming, procreating and
There is ample scientific evidence that hurricanes are becoming stronger
and more numerous because of global warming. A recent MIT study found that
the destructive power of hurricanes has nearly doubled in 30 years,
attributed to an increase of 0.5 degrees Celsius in surface ocean
temperatures. Katrina has roared from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane
as it passed over Gulf of Mexico waters of unprecedented warmth (more
I am deeply sorry and full of regret for the carnage that appears imminent
in New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region. Yet this "natural"
disaster in many ways reflects human disregard for our natural
environment. Expected massive loss of human life and property is a direct
result of global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases,
and poorly planned coastal development.
The ruling oil oligarchy is guilty of criminal negligence in not urgently
addressing climate change. The fossil fuel based energy status quo is
simply not an option if the climate and all the Earth's life are to escape
massive unstable swings. There is no evacuation plan for Planet Earth, and
engineering a biosphere is not feasible.
What to do? World citizens and their leaders have a responsibility to
begin urgent measures to first minimize and then adapt to climate change.
The best science available suggests the world must commit to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% by 2050 to avert a climate
This will only be possible by immediately commencing a major shift away
from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy conservation. In an era
of rising seas, many coastal developments must be abandoned and coastal
ecosystems restored to fulfill their role as living, moving barriers.
The future of the human family depends upon stabilizing global warming
soon at a level we can live with, protecting and restoring large areas of
natural land and ocean ecosystems, and learning to limit both our numbers
and consumption. And commitments to global peace, justice and equity are
also necessary precursors to global ecological sustainability.
Failure to pursue such a path will mean a one in five hundred year
catastrophe every few weeks or so. As I write these words, the storm is
just reaching the Gulf Coast and its full impacts are not yet known. As I
watch Hurricane Katrina bear down upon New Orleans, I find myself praying
to Gaia that we are not already too late.
Please let lives be spared. And may the world and Americans in particular
be taught an urgently needed ecology lesson regarding the ultimate price
of their deadly lifestyles.
Again, as goes the Earth shall go humanity.
More information on hurricanes and climate change can be found at the
ClimateArk - http://www.climeark.org/ - and with the following searches:
ClimateArk Internet Search
ClimateArk Newsfeed Search
Written and networked by Dr. Glen Barry in his personal capacity
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