The debate has escalated about the effects of Climate change on the intensity of Hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.
There is consensus among many scientists that the monster hurricanes in the 2017 season is helped by global warming but not caused solely as a result of this phenomenon.
A current article in the British Telegraph focuses on the views of many qualified experts on the factors that are contributing to this rapid spate of hurricanes that swept through the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and some parts of the United States in the past two weeks.
Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading, Richard Allan told The Telegraph he believes the hurricanes we have seen are made worse by climate change.
He said that particularly strong seasonal warming this year has made conditions ripe for a hurricane.
He said: “Hurricanes, or tropical cyclones, require a set of atmospheric ingredients to form. Warm upper ocean water provides the most vital hurricane fodder – energy and water. But changes in wind and moisture with altitude are also key and the rotation of the Earth increasingly spins these storms up as they travel away from the equator”.
Professor Allan went on: “…Strong seasonal warming this year combined with the other factors … partly relating to natural ocean fluctuations, have made conditions ripe for tropical cyclones to form in the Atlantic.”
According to Dr Allan, climate change can exacerbate this and result in more deadly hurricanes.
“… Additional heating due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities will inevitably make them deadlier. Extra energy from warmer waters increases the intensity of the winds in the strongest cyclones while a warmer atmosphere is able to suck in greater quantities of moisture which is dumped as more intense rainfall.
“Rising sea level due to oceans expanding as they warm and more ice melt from glaciers and ice sheets on land add to the size of ocean storm surges which can devastate coastal regions, including low lying islands.
So, while the fickle nature of the atmosphere and ocean have generated deadly storms this year, their impacts have been amplified by human-caused climate change.”
Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford, Myles Allen, said he believes the massive hurricanes sweeping through the region is almost definitely due to climate change.
He explained: “As yet another hurricane barrels into the Caribbean, with extreme precipitation and the impacts of storm surges both exacerbated by past greenhouse gas emissions, we must begin to ask ‘how long can we expect taxpayers and those in the path of the storms to foot the entire bill for the impacts of climate change?’
But Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, Dr. Sally Brown seems to hold a slightly different view since no one is really sure how much of an effect climate change is having on hurricanes.
She said; “How much climate change is involved in these hurricanes and their impacts is uncertain and requires study. Repeated studies to date have indicated that small islands are likely to have high levels of vulnerability to extreme events, such as Hurricane Irma, and suffer most in the aftermath.
The debate will wage on for years.
However, as a small region in terms of geo-politics, our leaders have to come to terms with the fact that the entire Caribbean region is vulnerable and we have to be prepared to meet the oncoming and furious hurricanes between the June to November period.
Many of our islands have chosen to go the route of independence and no longer colonies and cannot look towards the former “mothers” like England, France and the United States to look after their every need.
The “what to do” in the hurricane season is available in most islands to our people.
What we have to ensure is that our respective governments put the right people in place not only in the
National Disaster agency but also the Physical Planning Unit and the Ministry of Works.
The damages from Irma and Maria are showing the result of poor construction practices which are given approval and clearly are under-par.
It is time to put a stop to what we call “Jobs for the Boys” in key areas that impact on disaster and to really enforce the existing Physical Planning law which is universal in the region but is often tampered with by politicians whose main concern is “jobs’ jobs, jobs” and not putting safety standards on the front-burner.
The region is endowed with some of the best brains and talents in the area of disaster preparation and management.
In Grenada, we have side-lined some of the better trained and qualified persons in disaster but institutions like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) are sending them to disaster-affected areas in the region to help out the situation.
THE NEW TODAY reiterates an earlier call for the powers-that-be in Grenada to identify a pool of persons who already exist, are in the regional system and have them always on stand-by to render real and meaningful contributions in the event of a massive natural disaster from the acts of the weather.
The current NadMA setup is badly lacking and is a disaster trap that can flam at any time with serious consequences for our nation.