Is Biden right to link Northeast storm to climate change?


Fact Box

  • The Category 4 Atlantic storm, Hurricane Ida, struck Louisiana on August 30, 2021, with 150-mile-per-hour winds, torrential downpours and massive flooding. The storm traveled northeast and hit the region in early September.  
  • On September 7, 2021, President Biden toured New Jersey and New York to survey the damage from tropical storm Ida. In a statement, he said in Queens, NY, “People are beginning to realize this is much, much bigger than anyone was willing to believe. And the whole segment of our population denying this thing called climate change...Even the climate skeptics are seeing that this really does matter.”
  • Nasa defines “Climate change” as “a change in the usual weather found in a place. [...] Weather can change in just a few hours. Climate takes hundreds or even millions of years to change.” 
  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report on April 19, stating 2020 was “one of three warmest years on record.” The global average temperature rose 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial age temperatures. 
  • A 2019 Pew Research poll records 59% of US population views climate change as a major threat, 23% a minor threat, and 16% as no threat.

Morgan (Yes)

The storm in the Northeast—first, Hurricane Ida followed by Hurricane Larry—isn't the only amplified weather event happening across the United States. While the Northeast is preparing for another big storm, the western part of the United States is burning down, quite literally. As the result of record-high summer temperatures and a lack of rainfall, states like Oregon and California suffer from massive, raging wildfires. These disastrous weather events spread out across the country aren't a coincidence; they result from climate change.

Scientists have warned us for decades—since the 1960's—that climate change causes an increase in weather severity, and the increase in deadly weather that the US is experiencing, such as with the Northeast storm, is proving them right. These hurricanes are only a taste of it, and many people, including the families of at least 49 people who died in Ida (as of September 4), feel the effects of these record-setting storms. Scientists are scientists for a reason; they have been telling us the truth.

Along with the death and destruction that Hurricane Ida brought with it, the parts of the country affected by the storm also experienced record rainfall in record time. The rainfall caused massive flooding in parts of the Northeast, with New Jersey being one of the places hit the hardest. According to The Guardian, climate change resulted in Ida having wind speeds of 150 miles per hour—fast enough to make it a Category 4 and the fifth-fastest storm ever to make landfall. The record storm characteristics that came with Hurricane Ida, such as the catastrophic rainfall and wind, prove that climate change makes these storms worse.

Siam (No)

These days, every time natural disaster is blamed on the changing climate. Even President Biden has started to blame the recent northeast storm on the climate. Hurricane Henri was a mild tropical hurricane that first entered the Gulf of Mexico but failed to make landfall. Over the ensuing few days, the trajectory of the storm moved it northwards, where it made landfall along the NE corridor. 

But the fact of the matter is that this was only the first major storm in a decade to hit the Northeast, whereas climate change is continuously ongoing and ever changing. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, but things have been quiet since. Secondly, if this was climate-related, we would see this natural disaster more frequently instead of during the expected hurricane season(which is now). While hurricanes rarely reach this part of the nation, it was only due to a change in the trajectory of the hurricane that it has reached the Northeast

Thirdly, pre-fall storms occur every five years, are seasonal, and have little to do with the climate. If this was directly due to climate change, then we would expect frequent, unrelenting storms in the Northeast. But in fact, the federal climate site states that the number of storms may be the same as previous years or even fewer this year. 

Finally, climate experts reveal that we have not yet directly accumulated high-quality data to correlate hurricanes and climate change. This means President Biden would be wise to govern the nation in policy rather than act as an expert in meteorology.

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