Harvey and Irma aren't 'natural' disasters — they're climate change disasters

Business Insider | 9/11/2017 | Eric Holthaus, Grist
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If you’re like me, you can’t stop yourself from watching the weather these days. And if you’re like me, you can’t help but think: Holy ****, it’s here.

Back-to-back hurricane catastrophes have plunged the United States into a state of national crisis.

Worst-case - Scenario - Texas - Moment - Hurricane

We’ve already seen one worst-case scenario in Texas: For the moment, Hurricane Harvey stands as the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.

And now there’s Irma, which has wreaked havoc across the entirety of Florida, America’s most vulnerable state. In just two weeks, the U.S. could rack up hundreds of billions of dollars in losses.

Make - Mistake - Storms - Warmer - Desire

Make no mistake: These storms weren’t natural. A warmer, more violent atmosphere — heated up by our collective desire to ignore the fact that we live on a planet where such devastation is possible — juiced Harvey and Irma’s destruction.

Houston and South Florida have long been considered two of our most vulnerable regions, carved out of swamps in some of the most storm-prone parts of the Earth. Now they lay, at least partially, in ruins.

Scenes - Water - Rooftops - Texas - Trees

Lurking behind the horrific scenes of water rising above rooftops along swollen Texas bayous and palm trees snapping in front of battered beachfront condos is this stark reality: Climate change doesn’t “cause” disasters like this, but it most certainly is making them worse.

It’s scary to watch this play out in real time. People’s lives and our landscapes are being altered. This is not a “new normal.” There is no more normal.

Effects - Phase - Climate - Reality - United

The effects of this new phase in our new climate reality reach far beyond the southeastern United States. Devastating floods across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria in recent weeks collectively killed hundreds more than Harvey has and Irma likely will, combined.

A massive complex of wildfires is burning millions of acres across the North American...
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