Baljot Rai ’24
Diving into paleotempestology—the study of past tropical cyclone and hurricane activity—, it is easy to notice that many hurricanes with the most detrimental effects have occurred after 1990. This was not long after June 23, 1988, when the United States acknowledged climate change and global warming as a serious issue. The fact that these two timestamps are so close to each other is not a coincidence. Climate change has had many negative impacts on our Earth, be it declining water supplies, droughts, endangerment, extinction of certain species, and erosion of mountains and buildings. However, the intensifying of hurricanes is one of the most dangerous on the climate change side effect list.
A study by researchers at Yale University states that since 1975, there has been a substantial increase in the amount of category four and five hurricanes, which are the most destructive. The likelihood of a hurricane of category four or five increases by 25-30% per degrees Celsius of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming.
It should be noted that climate change intensifies hurricanes, but does not result in more hurricanes. Global warming results in warmer sea temperatures and stronger tropical wind-storm speeds, which causes hurricanes to do more damage. Further, global warming’s impacts on land, ice, and glaciers cause an increase in sea levels, making storm surges worse. Global warming also impacts how long a hurricane continues once it hits land. In a normal situation, hurricanes tend to dissipate a short time after they hit land, since air moisture—one of the primary intensifiers of hurricanes—is lower above land when compared to water. Moreover, warmer temperatures on land continue to intensify the hurricane, which leads to hurricanes going on longer than anticipated, resulting in more damage.
The intensifying of hurricanes is only one negative impact of climate change, worrying specifically to coastal areas. In polar religions, climate change is causing the melting of glaciers and disruption of the ecosystem. In some agricultural regions, climate change is causing droughts, harming their economy. Looking at current circumstances, it is essential that we make changes in our lifestyles to protect our planet. Politicians who recognize the severity of climate change and have plans to reduce its effects must be elected. Until then, we can do our part. Remember to reduce unnecessary consumption, reuse materials when able, and recycle what you can no longer use.
Photo from Britannica.com