Climate Conversations – Human response to Global Warming

Clyde Burnett, Nederland.  Harvey is an extreme flood disaster in south Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf States. News reports agree that Harvey cannot be specifically blamed on climate change; all extreme weather is both natural and related to climate change. Harvey is an unnatural disaster!


The dice were loaded! We have continued global warming, due to increased infrared heat trapping by greenhouse gases, largely by the carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Earth has responded with warmed Gulf water, very deep, so that there is almost one foot of sea level rise from expansion. This produced the big storm surge. This is the fuel that made Harvey a category 4 hurricane. Warmed air holds more water vapor, producing the heavy rain that prevents runaway global warming. Harvey’s slow progress was due to sluggish atmospheric circulation believed to result from Arctic warming (see photo).


Rescues continue with everything from jet skis to a C-130. The Weather Channel interviewed a woman in Rockport staring at her destroyed home. She explained that she could only pray a lot. When asked why she didn’t evacuate, she could only reply, “We didn’t have the money”.


The National Weather Service has predicted an uninhabitable region for a long time.


Our Gilpin County commissioners have passed a resolution that we need to maintain our commitment to the Paris Accord. However, poorly informed voters have given us a Republican Congress and Administration dedicated to the domination of fossil fuel industry profits over climate change. This means that we need to move ahead with local renewable energy. Such a project is the Nederland commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025 recently enacted by the town council. The 100% renewable energy for Nederland is concerned with economics and the need to transition away from our years of relatively cheap fossil industry electric power. (It’s not cheap in reality. Some of our federal tax dollars are spent for government subsidies to fossil fuel industries!) We owe planet Earth! This move to renewables should be seen as an investment in a future free source of energy and a livable climate for our offspring.


We have no personal worry, locally, of hurricanes due to climate change, but Alaska, Canada, and the US West have had extremely bad fires this year. We have been fortunate with our recent gentle rainy weather, but remember the prediction: global warming can cause hot and dry weather. A week of wind and sun will make us extremely vulnerable with a higher probability of wildfire.


There are obviously terrible personal financial costs as well as the hazards of food, water, and medicine for the evacuated victims of Harvey.


Some of those Texas costs will show up in our insurance premiums. FEMA is presently very active in the Houston flooding; this is our federal tax money. These are some of our increasing adaptation costs, and we already have the ongoing costs of our 2013 canyon floods.


There is cost in procrastination in controlling the greenhouse gas that is increasing our global warming and the extreme weather of climate change. We need to examine our personal actions now. Think about conserving energy and minimizing travel. We have the personal option to move to renewable energy during this time of the failure of our Federal Government to recognize the need to act on this dangerous situation.


Consider long term investment for our next generation; can we truly say “We didn’t have the money”?