Letter to the Editor: Climate change is damaging our pocketbooks

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All through time, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, storms, etc., have been causing trouble for people all over the planet. But our weather, in recent years, has started to give us more record-breaking extreme events.

A decade or two ago, climate change was originally just called global warming. People just talked about a small average temperature increase and minor glacier melting to raise sea level a little bit many decades from now. But that warming is a primary effect, which is now also causing a lot of secondary effects (see below). A lot of these effects are starting to hit us in our pocketbooks, and it will all get much worse much sooner in the future.

The narrative below includes full titles of recent articles (with source websites in parentheses). The titles give the message of the article in a nutshell sentence and make it easy to find by a search on the internet to get the full story.

“Analysis: Half the global population saw all-time record temperatures over past decade” (carbonbrief.org). “Even weak hurricanes are getting stronger as the climate warms” (scientificamerican.com). “Here’s what we know about how climate change fuels hurricanes” (news.climate.columbia.edu). “Catastrophe modeler says global warming increased wind losses by 11%” (claimsjournal.com). Last but not least: “Tornadoes and climate change” (c2es.org). That article is particularly good.

An internet search on the keyword string “climate change storm damage insurance claims” led me to an article titled, “With climate impacts growing, insurance companies face big challenges” (news.climate.columbia.edu). At the end of the first paragraph, it said there was $800 billion worth of storm damage in the last five years, and this was worse than for any prior comparable period. But wait, there’s more: “Climate change is destabilizing insurance industry” (scientificamerican.com). “Crop losses from climate crisis cost billions of dollars in insurance payouts” (ewg.org). “Global climate change impact on crops expected within 10 years, NASA study finds” (climate.nasa.gov). And we need to “Address the growing urgency of fungal disease in crops” (nature.com). People alleging offshore wind farms causing whale beachings and marine life disturbances should read the article titled, “Feeling the heat: How fish are migrating from warming waters” (e360.yale.edu). “Recent, rapid ocean warming ahead of El Niño alarms scientists” (bbc.com). In addition, it is a fact of chemistry that in warmer waters there will be less dissolved oxygen, therefore fewer fish.

“The first national flood risk assessment” (firststreet.org) shows that our coasts will soon be in serious trouble from sea level rise. “Unprecedented sea level rise seen on Gulf Coast, East Coast as waters warm” says that tide gauge measurements tell us that the rate has increased to three times higher than before (nola.com).

“‘Devastating’ melt of Greenland, Antarctic ice sheets found” (nbcnews.com). As if all this is not bad enough, please read “For Americans uprooted by climate change, mental health is the next crisis,” on the Rand Corp. think tank website.

Over the last 50 years, the climate scientists made theories, used instrumentation to make the measurements and then made predictions, which all came true. Now, we have extreme and record-breaking weather (see above). It has begun to disturb our tranquility and hit our pocketbooks one way or the other.

It will get worse. The only chance to minimize the disasters ahead will involve a comprehensive look at all factors and a lot of action. It took decades for greenhouse gases to get us into this mess. Everyone will need to understand that it will likely take the same number of decades to get us back to normal (i.e., pre-1900-1950s climate). The last article I suggest you read is: “Doomsday warning: It’s time to start moving coastal cities to higher ground — here’s why” (wraltechwire.com).

Arthur E. Sowers

Harbeson

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