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2016-Summer/Fall: Part 8:
Timeline of recent environmental concerns


Climate change is adversely
affecting humans and animals.
Hurricane Matthew kills over 1,000.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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polar bear 2016-SEP-15: Impacts on the earth caused by climate change:

Max Plenke, writing for the Mic Network Inc (US) listed some of the ongoing negative changes on Earth that are being caused by climate change: 1

  • Arctic ice: He compared arctic ice in 1848 and 2016. In 1848, two British shops Terror and Erebus attempted to sail through the 900 mile (1450 km) Northwest Passage north of Canada between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Both ships encountered heavy sea ice, became trapped, and sank. 129 men died; none survived. In contrast, during 2016-AUG, the Crystal Serenity cruise ship serenely sailed in the opposite direction from Anchorage, AK across the North of Canada to New York City, NY without difficulty.

  • A mammalian species was forced to extinction: Bramble Cay, (a.k.a. Maizab Kaur, Massaramcoer, or Baramaki) is a tiny island that forms the northernmost point of land in north-east Australia. It is one of the 274 Torres Strait Islands in Queensland. It was home to a small rodent, called the Bramble Cay melomys (a.k.a., or Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat). Its scientific name is Melomys rubicola. The island is currently only about 6.2 acres in area at high tide, down from 9.8 acres in 1988 due to the continuing rise in worldwide sea levels. This rise is caused by two phenomenon: the melting glaciers around the world are pouring water into the oceans, and water expands as it heats up. Both are due to global warming. For the first time, a mammal has been declared extinct because of a "dramatic habitat loss" caused by "human-induced climate change."

  • Permafrost: Much of the far north of Alaska and Canada is covered in permafrost. This is the top layer of ground that remains permanently frozen year around. Now, large patches of permafrost are melting each Summer. This causes a drop in the elevation of the land. A serious, long-term problem caused by this melting is that the defrosting permafrost will create a positive feedback loop: it will release methane and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. This will increase the rate of global warming, which in turn will accelerate the rate of permafrost melting. Charles Miller, principal investigator for the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that there are 1,500 billion metric tonnes (1,650 billion tons) of organic carbon frozen in arctic soil which will become a massive source of greenhouse gasses finding their way into the atmosphere if global warming is not stopped.

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  • Flooding: Parts of southern Louisiana were submerged under two feet (61 cm) of water during July. Thirteen people died. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noted that, in the past, such storms only occurred about once per 500 years. Yet, this storm was the eight such storm during the previous 12 months or so. Similar previous storms between mid-2014 and mid-2015 were observed in Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

    Beth Christensen, Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY explained that higher temperatures cause higher levels of water evaporation which places more moisture in the atmosphere. This, in turn, generates heavier rainfalls. Meanwhile, the same rise in sea levels that caused extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys in Australia will also make flooding more frequent in the U.S. She said:

    "We can document that these events are anthropogenic. This is our new reality."

    "Anthropogenic" means a phenomenon caused by the actions of humans.

NASA's Charles Miller, said:

"We need to search for alternatives to carbon-based energy systems like fossil fuels. It's having a noticeable impact on the Earth as an entire system. ... It's not enough to think these things are localized. Every action we take has a global impact."

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Early 2016-OCT: The enormous strength of Hurricane Matthew is another result of climate change:

Many atmospheric scientists believe that global warming will increase the wind velocity and thus the potential for damage caused by hurricanes. However, it will not necessarily make them more frequent.

Andrea Thompson and Brian Kahn, writing for Climate Central, said that very powerful Category 3 hurricanes:

"... have actually become more common in the Atlantic basin. The reason could be linked to rising sea surface temperatures — fueled in part by global warming — as seen in ocean buoy data collected along the U.S. coast. ... In addition to the rise in major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, the average number of named hurricanes each year has increased to about seven storms from five storms". ..."

"Other ocean basins have also seen changes to their seasons. Landfalling typhoons have become more intense in the northwest Pacific while Hawaii has seen a string of hurricanes and tropical storms swing dangerously close to the island in recent years." 2

Webmaster's comment:

Two of our staff at ReligiousTolerance.org have enjoyed vacations in Hawaii in the past. During 2015-SEP, they returned to Oahu when an unprecedented event occurred. Three hurricanes passed sequentially north of the Islands, from East to West. This drew hot, humid air from the equatorial regions over Hawaii and caused unusually high and uncomfortable temperature and humidity levels. Our staff were presented with two options: to stay in their hotel room, watch TV, and be bored, or to go outside and suffer from the heat and humidity. They don't plan to return anytime soon.

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Hurricane Matthew was originally rated as a unusually strong Category 5 storm. These are hurricanes that have winds reaching 157 mph/253 km/hr or more. It weakened to a Category 4 (130 to 156 mph/209 to 251 km/hr) range and later to a Category 3 (111 to 129 mph/178 to 208 km/hr) as it approached Florida. It caused massive devastation in the Dominican Republic and Haiti; less serious damage occurred in eastern Cuba, and Bermuda.

In the Dominican Republic: three children and one senior died as a result of the storm.

In Haiti: Described as "the most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade," hurricane Matthew left a trail of massive devastation. Reuters news agency initially estimated the total death toll at 478. About 50 people were killed in the town of Roche-a-Bateau in the Tiburon Peninsula, near the westernmost part of Haiti. Just north, in Jeremie, about 80% of the buildings were destroyed. A bridge collapse on OCT-04 at Petit-Goave isolated the south-west part of the country. Power and telephones failed. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that about 350,000 Haitians are in need of assistance. 3 By the morning of OCT-08, the death toll was approaching 900. By OCT-10, it was over 1,000. In addition, Cholera is becoming rampant in rural communities that lack clean water, food and shelter. 4,5

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Was advance information about Matthew a government hoax?

In the U.S., blogger Matt Drudge (@DRUDGE) suggested that dire warnings about Hurricane Matthew were part of a U.S. government conspiracy to "exaggerate" climate change. He sent a tweet:

"The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate." 6

The term "deplorables" was used by Hillary Clinton, the candidate for the U.S. Presidency from the Democratic Party. She referred to half of the supporters of her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, as a "basket of deplorables."

Some said that Drudge's comments were both wrong and dangerous. Some people might actually believe him, decide to not evacuate, and die.

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More climate information from 2016 is in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Max Plenke, "Summer 2016 has seen some of the scariest observable effects of climate change yet," Mic Network Inc (US), 2016-SEP-15, at: https://mic.com/
  2. Andrea Thompson and Brian Kahn, "Atlantic Hurricane Season is Seeing More Major Storms," Climate Central, 2016-SEP-09, at: http://www.climatecentral.org/
  3. "Hurricane Matthew: Hundreds dead in Haiti storm disaster," BBC News, 2016-OCT-07, at: http://www.bbc.com/
  4. "Hurricane Matthew death toll nears 900 in Haiti, cholera takes lives," Reuters, 2016-OCT-08, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  5. "Haiti death toll tops 1,000 in Hurricane Matthew's devastating wake," CBC News, 2016-OCT-10, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
  6. "Matt Drudge suggests government is "lying" about Hurricane Matthew," CBS News, 2016-OCT-07, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2016-OCT-07
Latest update: 2016-OCT-11
Author: B.A. Robinson


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