Leslie Rosas RomeroEnglish 7H/EWP 190Mr. MarxJanuary 19, 2018Is Global Warming Strengthening Natural Disasters? Scientists have predicted that in less than 20 years, coastal cities will be uninhabitable due to a drastic rise of sea levels. (Gray) Major cities like New York, Boston and Orlando could be erased from the map in a short amount of time is terrifying to think about but that’s reality. What brought the world to this point where we can’t do anything about it but just watch? There are many answers but the major one is global warming. Global warming is a phenomenon to explain the rising temperatures of Earth and its effects. There are people who believe that climate change is not real and just a hoax created by scientists to gain more funds but a majority do believe it’s real.
Global warming has been making more headlines this century because its effects can be clearly seen all around the world. It’s a phenomenon that is driven by man’s actions and requires acknowledging it as a critical issue that needs to be fixed to not only save us but our planet since there’s no other planet B. Climate change is driven by various factors.
One of them is controlled by man and is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are natural substances that work as fuel such as coal. Throughout the years as technology advanced, so did factories and other industrialized areas. Due to advancements, more societies were able to become modernized and given access to more goods leading to consumerism. For the majority of goods to be consumed, they first have to be made and this is done in factories. The factories need the fuel and the money, therefore, the mass production of one product to make thousands of dollars can release high levels of carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases to the sky and onto Earth.
Although they are being released, their effects are noticeable. This connection wasn’t acknowledged or didn’t want to be until recent years when governments from different countries talked on placing more regulations on companies to reduce fossil fuels or use a more environmental friendly approach as health issues rose in the mid 1900s. Some companies do not want to follow environmental guidelines because they’re expensive and rather want to gain more money than saving the planet. The factories and the companies are not the only ones releasing high emissions of carbon dioxide, but also personal cars and objects that use fossil fuels as a power source. Using a more environmental approach can help protect the planet or at least lessen the effects of the rapidly changing planet.
The effects of global warming that are seen today weren’t seen in the past. The effects weren’t severe as it was typical to have a few hurricanes in the coast and the days could just a bit below or higher than the average temperature given for that certain season. Now it’s different. It could have been due to not having adequate technology to measure the intensity of a hurricane, or monitor if there’s a change in the geological features of the planet, but these past few years have shown that nature has changed. There have been more stronger storms, changes in temperatures and flooding in places that previously rarely had any. Is global warming strengthening the frequency and intensity of natural disasters? Section 1: Influence on Hurricanes and their Strength Hurricanes are tropical storms that are created through oceans and have wind speeds of more than 74 miles per hour. These storms can be classified into five different categories based on the wind speed and pressure, the strongest being a 5 level category and the lowest being a 1. Hurricanes are not necessarily called like that throughout the planet but they’re known as typhoons and monsoons.
The physiology of a hurricane is a massive donut-shaped storm which could be deadly. A hurricane is basically a heat engine which uses the heat of the body of water over which they are created to form a massive vortex of wind and rain (Monastersky, “Future”). These storms uses sea temperatures to gather strength. The warmer the sea is, the higher probability that the hurricane will be stronger. Hurricanes existed long before modern times. Although not necessarily called hurricanes at the time, they would often hit a nation when it was hurricane season. Sometimes hurricanes did not even hit landfall hard or they weakened due to colder sea temperatures and the only thing that remains is a low pressure system or rain.
Storms that didn’t meet the criteria for a hurricane are called tropical storms. Overall these storms still hit places in the world. The intensities of the hurricanes that did form weren’t as strong as the ones that hit the United States over the past years. During the year 1860, there were a total of six hurricanes in which consisted of four category two hurricanes, one category one hurricane and the strongest of the six being a category three (“Unisys Weather-1860”). These hurricanes formed in the Atlantic did not make any landfall in any country. There was no names placed into these hurricanes as they were only identified at the time by a series of numbers.
The category three hurricane had wind speeds of 110 miles per hour (“Unisys Weather-1860”). Thirty years later, in 1890 there was a total of four storms including both tropical storms and hurricanes. The strongest was a category three hurricane with 105 miles per hour which also did not make landfall (“Unisys Weather-1890” ). In contrast of the previous thirty years, the number of storm/hurricanes decreased by one storm. This might seem like a small number but is significant to have a decrease in number.
Another thirty years later, in 1920 there was a total of five storms in which two hurricanes were considered to be the strongest were classified as a category two with winds ranging from 85 to 95 miles per hour, two of the storms only developed to a tropical storm and one became a hurricane with a category of one (“Unisys Weather-1920”). Although the stronger hurricane did not reach landfall, the other storms and hurricane did reach in the United States, parts of Central America and the Caribbean. In a span of ninety years, there has been an unusual pattern of increasing and decreasing of storms and considering the Industrial Revolution ended around the mid to late 1800s it can be seen that it might have been one of the factors to have created this anomaly.
These storms created millions of dollars in damages and there were few casualties. Over the span of ninety years, the amounts of storms formed maintained in the single digits that’s until after the 1920s were the Atlantic ocean actively had more hurricanes. Global warming became more of an issue around the mid 1900s when the world was no longer watching various nations fighting against each other. After the 1920s, storms and hurricanes were being increasingly developed to double digits. Thirty years after 1920, in 1950, there was a total of sixteen storms, in which eleven were hurricanes and five were tropical storms (“Unisys Weather-1950”). The strongest of the sixteen were actually three hurricanes categorized as category four with wind speeds ranging from 115-125 miles per hour (“Unisys Weather-1950”). Most of the tropical storms and hurricanes circulated around the ocean but a few hurricanes did reach landfall and caused damages. In 1980, there was a total of eighteen storms that formed.
This time there was a total of nine tropical storms/tropical depressions, three category two hurricanes, four category one hurricanes, one category three hurricane and a category five hurricane (“Unisys Weather-1980”). The category five hurricane, now classified with names, called Hurricane Allen did reach landfall across Central America and eventually reaching the Mexican-American border through precipitation. The tropical depressions and tropical storm that were created, few reached the coasts of the United States or in the Caribbean islands. Another thirty years in a more present time in 2010, there was a total of twenty one storms which included nine tropical storms, three category one, four category two, one category three and the strongest being four category four hurricanes (“Unisys Weather-2010”). Fortunately, the strongest storms that brewed did not reach landfall instead roamed around the ocean.
Most of the tropical storms reached land and sent low pressure systems and precipitation to the United States. Others reached Mexico and heavily impacted the Caribbean islands. Two in particular that created headlines over the past decade is Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Katrina reached a category five intensity and impacted the state of Louisiana and other states located around the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey, twelve years later, impacted similar states that were also affected by Hurricane Katrina. The aftermath was tragic and costly as many were left without a home and had a sense of doubt if the food resources will be enough to last them until more resources are able to come in. In just ninety years, there has been a change in activity in the Atlantic Ocean and it has been brewing up storms at a rapid rate.
In the past century and a half, hurricanes have been making their presence known. In the 1800s, storms being formed were around the single digits. After the mid 1920s, everything changed as the pattern became more clearer that each passing years the amount of storms will only increase and it has and even created more stronger hurricanes. As stated by Monastersky,”When Mr.
Emmanuel plotted the power output of storms since 1930, he found that the value had cycled up and down from one decade to the next. But in the past 30 years, the numbers had shot upwards, suggesting that storms have grown stronger or laster longer or both.”Although few hurricanes that had high categorical levels did reach landfall, it created enough human casualties and economic losts. These numbers became higher in a modernized society although technology has advanced enough to warn people who might be affected it’s still not enough to prevent casualties and a storm can change their pattern or trajectory whenever they want in which technology might be hard to pick on. The technology of the past and present have recorded intensified storms and one of the possible reasons that this occurred is global warming.
Hurricanes have intensified over the past years and the reason why this might have happened is because of global warming. When comparing hurricanes that have been recorded in the past 30 years scientists have found that the power being released by the storms in the Atlantic has dramatically increased almost doubling (Monastersky, “Future”). Global warming might have on role on a more active hurricane season as it relates to sea temperatures. Sea temperatures have increased due to a warmth in the planet.
Hurricanes, like stated before, are heat engines that uses warm water to become a swirling vortex of high winds and of a low pressure system. In 2005, it was considered as one of the most warmest year in record with heaving an active hurricane season since record keeping began (Burton). This year was the year of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most strongest storms and for it to be considered one of the warmest year can’t be a coincidence. What if Hurricane Katrina was not the last storm to be considered the strongest but rather another even bigger storm that can break every record when the seas have become warm enough since there could be a “50 percent increase in the destructive potential” (Stuller). Global warming in theory could make storms stronger and more frequent as the heat in the ocean water is an engine that drives the hurricane (Stuller). Scientifically speaking, warmer seas create stronger storms and the seas have been warming up due to global warming which has been caused by mostly man made activity. Study have shown that the possible correlation between hurricanes and global warming can happen and create stronger storms towards the United States (The Associated Press). This can be proven by last year’s hurricane season as Hurricane Harvey destroyed everything in its path in Texas and the Caribbean, and Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma followed a similar trajectory that Harvey had left behind with a similar intensity.
The United States is susceptible to hurricanes due to being surrounded by two masses of water but if global warming still keeps being an issue then more cyclonic birthing grounds can be spread out which can in turn create more storms on track to places that are not accustomed to hurricanes (Stuller). An example would be the United Kingdom as a British journal described that global warming might create unpredictable storms towards the country (Stuller). The United Kingdom is a country that doesn’t receive hurricanes often. Stronger hurricanes may come due to global warming and it could mean that more coastal cities are susceptible to damages created by wind, precipitation, and/or flooding.Section 2: Influence on Coastal Cities and Flooding Floods are when a large amount of water overflowed beyond its containment over land. These kind of disasters are common when there’s a lot of rain has fallen or through storm surge. It’s hard for the water that entered cities or neighborhoods to disappear when the drains are at full capacity. They can destroy millions in property and can put at a standstill in traffic since it’s hard to drive or even walk when there’s inches/feet of water placed as an obstacle.
Flood tends to impact coastal cities the most since they are closer to a big mass of water such as the ocean and are more vulnerable to hurricanes.Hurricanes is not only the storm itself but it brings along huge masses of water to the city which is the storm surge. Stronger hurricanes means more precipitation and stronger storm surges. Floods and hurricanes intertwine since most of the time they come in a package. When a hurricane strikes, rain falls at rapid rates and accumulates rapidly. If there might be a correlation with the intensity of hurricanes and global warming that means that more rain and storm surges will occur in coastal cities. Coastal cities are the most to be impacted as they are hit first by hurricanes before weakening but also cities located at higher altitudes might receive more rainfall. Scientists believe that global warming could result in unknown amounts of rain but one thing for sure is that global warming can affect rain (Lecomte).
Hurricanes and floods are not the only relationship that can affect coastal cities but also icebergs and flooding. As the planet continues warming up, it’s certain that icebergs will no longer be ice and will melt. Man made actions such as releasing extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have warmed the planet so much that it’s affecting rainfall patterns in the Northern Hemisphere (Plumer).
The planet is covered with around 70% of water and if the ice starts to melt this percentage may increase. If the percentage increases that means the percentage of the planet being land will decrease creating an impact on the planet’s geology (McKie). The ice that is being melted will contribute to a rise of sea levels. This will not benefit coastal cities also because as sea levels rises it can flood places that are located at a disadvantageous place. Many experts agree that climate change will change weather patterns making it unstable therefore increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters like floods (Burton). A warmer planet can contribute on the rise of water vapor which can create stronger storms/hurricanes which leads to higher flood warnings (Plumer). Although floods are not often thinked as one of the most strongest natural disasters, its damage can easily be classified as disastrous and if global warming is contributing to an increase of flood warnings then coastal cities would no longer be in the coast but rather inside the body of water.
Section 3: Global warming has created an instability on temperatures as more places don’t have a consistency on what to expect. The phenomenon of global warming not only has made hurricanes stronger over the years and increased warnings of possible disappearance of coastal cities such as New York but it’s also affecting the temperatures. The planet is heating up and it’s changing what average temperature should be like in cities. This year especially New York City has seen low temperatures and even set a new record on for having the second coldest New Years Eve in the history of the city with temperatures of 10 below zero. Places that would not get snowfall in the winter got snow such as Florida and other Southern states. To add on, the northeastern part of the country over time has received strong snow storms burying majors cities in over 6 inches of snow. It’s not only the cold that’s affecting various states but also heat. An increase in temperature has created more wildfires and droughts.
Over the past decade, California has seen one of the worst era of wildfires as its scorching away pieces of land and destroying the environment even more by releasing poisonous gases in the atmosphere. This is leading to many habitants to move out of their homes and leave everything behind. Due to a continuous time of having high temperatures in California, it’s hard to control the fire as any other can start soon after. Droughts are also an issue thanks to high temperatures and low precipitation levels the land becomes hard to be used.
As stated by The Associated Press, “Global Warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts, and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of deadly and costly weather disasters.” If more land become unable to become fertile then it will lead to a humanitarian disaster. There’s over billions of people living in Earth and each one needs to be fed. The situation at hand is that if there’s not enough food it could create havoc between the population and the availability of food (Stuller). Unfortunately, over time, there has not been enough resources to start with to be able to feed everyone but if more countries are facing droughts, or change of temperature it can lead to a crisis of survival.
Section 4: Conclusion Global warming also called climate change is a phenomenon in which covers the Earth heating up and the effects of this happening. The Earth is heating up rapidly over the past few decades due to an increase of fossil fuels. Technology has advanced so much in a short amount of time but it needs the burning of fossil fuels for electricity to keep flowing. The Earth has been heating up and it’s not bringing positive outcomes. Hurricanes are created by the warm seas in the ocean and converting into a swirl of rain, pressure and winds. Floods is when water is not able to be maintained in an enclosed space and tips over.
Global warming is impacting their intensities. In the mid 1800s, there were ten or less reports of hurricanes and tropical storms. By the late 1900s, there were reports of over fifteen hurricanes and tropical storms. Warmer seas might have made hurricane intensify over the years but there’s no clear relationship between global warming and hurricanes. Since the planet is heating up, icebergs and glaciers are melting which contributes to a rise in sea levels which can flood and eventually eliminate remove coastal cities from the map. Changes in temperature has not only affected major cities but has created wildfires hard to maintain under control and droughts that could lead to a humanitarian issue due to a shortage of food supplies.
Global warming is real is not hoax created by scientists to have more money and even though some people such as Muir Wood that doesn’t believe that there is no linkage between natural disasters and climate change that’s okay but acknowledging that global warming is real it’s better than not acknowledging it all. (qtd in Trzupek) There could also be an error on recording hurricanes but that’s science is not perfect and doesn’t give us always the results we want. There’s no clear connections if climate change is strengthening natural disasters, as weather patterns aren’t usually the same year and can change anytime or any day.
The thing we can do is to start living more environmentally friendly and start making a stand for the planet to our government and enterprises to let them know that the environment is no longer fighting alone. Global warming is impacting us in small ways that we don’t acknowledge but it’s only matter of time when the planet will have enough and we might lose the one place we call home.