Tuesday, September 12, 2017
So many ironies to the two hurricanes. Between the global warming denials, the conspiracy theories and just plain stupid comments made by religious political leaders, one would like to think there might be more acceptance of the fact our planet is changing after all the destruction these past two weeks, but probably not.
Rush Limbaugh was forced to evacuate after insisting Irma was a liberal conspiracy. He claimed on radio that this faux storm was nothing more than a means for retail and grocery stories to have clearing house sales and for the liberal media to preach to us about global warming. Mercifully, he was off the air for a couple days as the massive storm passed over Florida.
For years, he and fellow global warming denier Rick Scott have been trying to tell Floridians there is nothing unusual about these prolonged hurricane seasons or that the cyclones are two, three, even four times bigger than they ever were before. Irma dwarfed Andrew, which hit South Florida in 1992. Both packed Category 5 winds when they crossed over the West Indies, but Irma's diameter was at least twice the size, meaning it inflicted a far broader path of destruction that took in the entire peninsula of Florida, with flood waters from Miami to Jacksonville.
Meteorologists predict no end in sight for these superstorms, which means cities like Miami, New Orleans and Houston will either have to build enormous seawalls or seek higher ground, because this is something they will have to deal with again and again.
Houston wasn't prepared at all for a storm of this magnitude, suffering a fate similar to what New Orleans went through with Katrina. Miami has had to weather many such storms. The sandy soil means the flood waters retreat pretty quickly and rebuilding will soon begin. But, in the not so distant future Miami may find itself underwater permanently, as rising sea levels take over coastal towns along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. What then?
It is doubtful Rick Scott or "Wheels" Abbott will have any epiphany. They will continue to deny climate change because it is the conservative thing to do. Fortunately, Governor Rick's tenure will come to an end in 2018, but "Wheels" can remain governor of Texas as long as the people will have him. Texans put up with Rick Perry for 11 years before he stepped down on his own volition.
A lot of persons refuse to accept climate change, quick to point to exceptions. Even in Houston, many are blaming city planning problems rather than global warming for the cataclysmic events. If only Houston had heeded the flood zones. But, these arguments don't really hold up because a storm like Harvey would wreck the best city planning efforts. A Superstorm of this magnitude will no longer be a "one in a thousand year event."
This is the part conservatives can't seem to get in their heads. It's not like we haven't had storms like these in the past. The Galveston hurricane in 1900 is still considered the deadliest hurricane ever, creating a massive storm surge that inundated the Texas coastline and left anywhere from 6000 to 12,000 people dead. Houston was just a dot on the map then. The problem is that these storms are now occurring with greater frequency, and the hurricane season now extends into October due to warmer waters, which these superstorms feed off.
You can be sure Rush won't be offering a mea culpa, or that Donald Trump will reconsider his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, or that Rick Scott will allow state officials to use the word "climate change." To them, storms like Harvey and Irma remain anomalies, climate change is a liberal conspiracy designed to undercut oil and coal, and future generations have nothing to worry about. Hurricanes are a right of passage.
However, you have to ask yourself how much insurance companies will be willing to cover after two huge storms like this. It is bad enough having to pay out claims on one superstorm, but now they will be forced to make payouts on two. The economic cost of Harvey and Irma is expected to be around $290 billion. This puts the burden on federal and state governments to make up the shortfall. Something, Congressional conservatives are loathe to do, unless of course these superstorms occur in their home states.
It is highly doubtful the Trump administration will develop any strategy to deal with such crises. He will do what he can to avoid having the "Katrina" tag pinned on him, which proved to be George W. Bush's downfall in 2005. Rush will continue to spout his nonsense on radio and all will be forgotten until the next superstorm hits, which may very well come again this year, as we aren't out of the hurricane season yet.