“You get the sort of devastating flooding that we’re seeing right now with these landfalling hurricanes.” You make the soils warmer in the summer, you dry them out more, so you get more drought. And what we see out west, the heat, the drought combine to give us those devastating wildfires. And so, this isn’t rocket science. The physics here is very basic, and it tells us that we’re reaping what we’ve sown. We’re now experiencing devastating climate impacts.”
Also falling into that category of reaping what we’ve sown is why Puerto Rico was poised to experience worse devastation than before. Environmental racism is sadly rampant on the island. Even after Maria made it clear that the grid operator Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority should not continue overseeing Puerto Rico’s power, a similarly corrupt entity known as LUMA has taken over and once again failed residents. Energy justice in particular has been an issue “gaining ground,” according to Nonprofit Quarterly. The aftermath of Fiona will undoubtedly represent a flashpoint in addressing that issue—and one that certainly cannot wait given climate change’s ability to worsen storms and create them in what feels like record time.
Those worsening storms are also making their way to Japan, which saw one of its most powerful typhoons make landfall on the island of Kyushu earlier on Sunday. Considered a super typhoon, Typhoon Nanmadol at its worst felt similar to a Category 4 hurricane and brought massive amounts of rain to Kyushu and neighboring islands. As with Puerto Rico, Kyushu, Chugoku, and Shikoku are grappling with massive amounts of flooding and power outages. Already, two people have died and a total of eight million were asked to evacuate because of the storm.
Finally, preceding both Typhoon Nanmadol and Hurricane Fiona, Alaska experienced a uniquely awful storm in the Bering Sea that, according to Axios, “evolved from Typhoon Merbok.” Experts told the outlet that it was undeniable that the storm, which brought major flooding and destruction to Western Alaska, was not only worsened by climate change but even how the storm itself formed was impacted by the climate crisis.
As Mann noted when he concluded his interview on Monday, the consequences of climate change are already here and they don’t care what region you live in or whether you’re an ocean away from disaster. “Everywhere you go, warmer oceans mean more intense hurricanes or typhoons, as we call them over there, and worse flooding with these storms,” Mann said, calling the issue “the tip of the iceberg.” “The good news is we can prevent this all from getting worse if we bring those carbon emissions down... We can prevent further warming of the planet and worsening of these effects. But if we continue to burn fossil fuels, all of this only gets worse. This only becomes a glimpse of what is to come.”
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