Harvey+Irma= what? The Climate Minute Podcast

This episode focuses on the economic impact of repeated hurricanes, the need for a new rating system for these climate-assisted “unnatural disasters,” and the new head of NASA who claims that climate change ended ten years ago. Also, join co-host Mariah Tinger for her book talk and MCAN fundraiser on Wednesday, September 13th at 7 pm – details below.

At the time of this recording, Hurricane Irma was on its way to Florida but had not yet hit. There are two hurricanes, Jose and Katia, behind her. Irma is recognized as the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in history. The economic damage—not to mention aid that will be required—due to these hurricanes is unthinkable. As Thom Hartmann says, the economic damage from these storms may precipitate a great depression. At this point, people can no longer make excuses that climate change is in the future, or that it is just going to affect polar bears or people overseas. It is here, now. Referencing co-host D.R. Tucker’s Washington Monthly article, we discuss the parallels between 9/11, the opioid epidemic, and climate change. With the increasing severity of hurricanes, beyond anything we have seen in the past, perhaps there is a need for a more nuanced descriptive system than the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The rating system should include four categories – wind speed, storm speed, precipitation levels, and predicted damage based on the geography it will impact. We will likely spend some percentage of a trillion dollars to repair the damage from Harvey and Katrina. We ponder the best ways to invest resources going forward. For example, Boston is discussing the need for a $30 to $40 billion investment to build a seawall. Perhaps that money would be more effective and help more people if we instead used it to mitigate carbon emissions or restore marshes that can help absorb water instead of pushing it onto another community to spare Boston. The national leaders are not providing the best direction with many climate deniers at the helm of important scientific offices. Notably, per ThinkProgress, Jim Bridenstine was just nominated to head NASA—he believes that climate change “stopped ten years ago” and demanded that Obama apologize for spending money to do something about it.


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