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Climate Change. Part 22:

2017-SEP/OCT: The most expensive recent
hurricanes to attack the United States.

Does God use Hurricanes to send a message?
Conflicts, climate change cause rise in hunger.
All UN states have signed the Paris Agreement.

Government report contradicts the President.
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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Cracked earth caused by drought.

Drought causing cracked earth 1

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The most expensive recent hurricanes in the U.S.:

In order of decreasing cost, they were:

  • Katrina (2005): $160 billion
  • Harvey (2017): $85 billion (estimated)
  • Superstorm Sandy (2012) $70 billion
  • Hurricane Irma (2017) $58 billion (estimated)
  • Hurricane Andrew (1992) $48 billion
  • Hurricane Ike (1992) $35 billion
  • Hurricane Ivan (2004) $27 billion
  • Hurricane Wilma (2005) $24 billion

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Does God use Hurricanes to send a message to all Americans?

Webmaster's comment [bias alert]:

After writing the above essay, it occurred to me that some religious conservatives might suggest that God set up various hurricanes and directed it to the Carribean and the South-east U.S, mainland in order to send a message to -- or directly punish -- residents in the affected area. Similar claims of God using natural disasters -- hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. were expressed during many earlier catastrophes. So, I did a Google search for:

God sent Harvey Texas

I was surprised to find that Google returned about 14.3 million hits!

The highest rated hit was from:

Pinknews.co.uk, a pro-LGBT equality web site, which reported that Kevin Swanson, a pastor with ties to GOP Senator Ted Cruz, "... claimed that Hurricane Harvey was a ‘punishment’ from God for Texas rejecting an anti-trans[gender] law." 2

The second highest rating was given to:

The Salt Lake City Tribune for an an article they posted by Kimberly Winston of the Religious News Service. She noted that for previous hurricanes, some pastors blamed God's reaction to the "homosexual agenda." Howeverm she noted that many religious leaders' reactions to Harvey delt with positive news stories: praising Houston's first responders and citizen volunteers.

She also quoted Michael Brown, an evangelical Christian broadcaster and a member of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, who said:

"We must be very careful before we make divine pronouncements about hurricanes and other natural disasters, as if they were specific acts of divine judgment against specific sets of sinners."

Also, she quoted Stephen T. Davis, a professor of philosophy at Claremont McKenna College who said that the idea of God's punishment gets:

"... very little traction” outside conservative religious circles. ... the secular world finds explanations like ‘God wanted to punish Houston’ ridiculous."

She also quoted James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family who emphasized:

The heroic efforts of emergency personnel and the National Guard as they work to rescue and comfort those stranded and displaced by the flooding. ... my prayer is that we as a nation would not politicize this crisis in any way. That will not help those who are suffering. Unity is our greatest strength in times of trial so let us come together to support and serve the people of Texas." 3

On SEP-07, Swanson implied during his radio program that God was punishing people with Irma:

"God is in control of what is going on, and whether or not Irma is going to do $200 billion worth of damage in Miami ... is all in the hands of God. Those winds are going to blow where they are going to blow, but they’re going to blow in the direction that God ordains them to go. Friends, God is in complete control and utter control of what is going on with these hurricanes. ..."

"The wrath of God against this nation is intense. I wish that American leaders would sit up and pay attention ... The Supreme Court of the United States needs to reverse Roe v. Wade [their 1973 ruling that allowed women to choose early abortions] and Obergefell [their 2015 ruling that legalized gay-marriages across the U.S.] now, this afternoon, before Irma does her damage. It would be a good thing if the Supreme Court of the United States understood that God is in control of these things and God is a personality and God is offended by the sins of this nation." 4,5

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2017-OCT-03: Conflict and climate change causes hunger rates to rise:

The Conversation web site contained a report by Evan Fraser, the Canadian Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He wrote:

Last year about 11 per cent of the total human population (approximately 850 million people on the planet) suffered from daily hunger, according to a recent United Nations report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world.

This is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. The numbers show a 4.5 per cent increase — or 38 million more hungry people — from the previous year. This rise in hunger is especially significant because it is the first rise in global hunger we have seen in more than a decade.

Though global hunger was at 14 per cent of the world’s population in 2005, each year since then, between 2005 and 2016, the number of hungry people on the planet dropped. Development officials were cautiously optimistic that we were on our way to eradicating hunger.

Conflict and climate change are the culprits behind this year’s rise in numbers.

According to the United Nations, food security worsened across major parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Western Asia. For instance, South Sudan is mired in conflict and experienced a major famine earlier this year.

Bad weather can lead to conflict:

If you overlay a map of the world’s conflicts with a map of the world’s worst food security problems, there is a clear connection. The UN notes 20 million people are at risk of dying of hunger not only in South Sudan but also Somalia, Yemen and the northeast tip of Nigeria. All of these areas are affected by conflicts that undermine people’s ability to feed themselves.

Similarly, deteriorating environmental conditions have ravaged many of these areas. The UN report notes that Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Yemen all experienced bad floods in 2016 while Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria all suffered bad droughts.

What we are probably witnessing is an interaction between deteriorating environmental conditions that help exacerbate already existing social tensions and undermine the livelihoods of millions.

We’ve been here before; history shows us that there are often links between conflict and bad weather.

For instance, there is a complex but well-established connection between droughts and the start of the Syrian Civil War. It seems that faltering rainfall in the early 2000s upended Syria’s rural communities and brought people into cities where they began protesting political corruption in the Assad government.

Similarly, there is a link between droughts and the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. And if we look further back in time, it is well-recognized by historians that the French Revolution began as protests over food prices after harvest failures sent waves of penniless refugees into the streets of Paris.

Possible solution: drought-tolerant crops:

Luckily, there are potential solutions — even ... in Canada. For example, at the University of Guelph we are breeding more drought-tolerant varieties of our important crops. We can promote agricultural practices that build up the soil’s organic matter. The extra organic matter acts like a sponge by trapping rainfall and holding onto it for when it is needed.

In addition, we can support international development projects focusing in particular on female-headed households, to help small-scale farmers access markets and become more efficient. Focusing on women is critical because in Africa, as much as 80 per cent of food is produced by small farmers who are mostly rural women.

For years, academics and activists have been trying to raise alarm bells that population growth and climate change will make it increasingly hard to maintain food security over the next generation, and that conflict is almost inevitable as a result.

But until this year, there didn’t seem to be much data, outside of historic antecedents, to confirm these worries. With hunger decreasing every year, what was the big deal? But the uptick in hunger signalled in this most recent UN report should focus our attention.

In the future, will we remember 2017 as the year when we started to lose the battle to ensure the future is well fed? Or will we heed this warning and take the actions necessary to help communities everywhere build more resilient food systems? 6

Of course, getting climate change under control would go a long way to reducing flooding and droughts.

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2017-OCT & NOV: Two countries join the Paris Agreement:

During 2016, only two countries in the UN had refused to join the agreement:

  • Nicaragua: Although government officials are convinced that global warming is happening and that it is caused by human activity, they refused to join the agreement. Their objection was because it is based on countries making voluntary pledges. There are no penalties if these pledges are not met. They wanted a tougher, compulsory, and more ambitious agreement.

  • Syria: The meetings that led up to the Agreement was held during the the heaviest fighting in the long-standing civil conflict in this country. Also, members of the government are under European and U.S. sanctions and could not freely travel internationally to attend meetings. 4

Unfortunately, during:

  • 2017-JUN, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he was starting the multi-year process of withdrawing the country from the Paris Agreement.

However, on a positive note:

  • 2017-OCT, Nicaragua signed the agreement. 8

  • 2017-NOV: Syrian representatives announced at the COP 23 UN climate summit that they had signed the Agreement. 9

This means that as of 2017-NOV, all of the states in the U.N. had signed the Paris Agreement, but the U.S. was in the process of withdrawl.

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2017-NOV: President Trump's beliefs on climate change. A Congressionally mandated study totally contradicts him:

During his candidacy and his presididency, President Trump has denied the existence of global warming, calling it a hoax created by the Chinese, motivated by their desire to damage U.S. industry.

For example, during a radio interview in 2015, he said:

"I’m not a believer in man-made global warming. It could be warming, and it’s going to start to cool at some point. ...  Unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems." 10

There is an essay on this website that contains graphs, extending over many years, of the world's atmospheric temperature, earth's surface temperature, glacier shrinkage, extent of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, and the rise in sea level over time. They prove that global warming is actually happening. Further, a measurement of the Sun's energy output shows that it is currently dropping, and cannot be causing the warming. The graph showing the rise in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) level in the atmosphere identifies the main cause. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. As a NASA report states:

"Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and warms the Earth's surface. This heat is radiated back toward space. Most of the outoing heat is absorbed by greenhouse gas molecules and re-emitted in all directions. ... [This warms] the surface of the Earth and the lower atmosphere. 11

Although CO2 is the main culprit, other gasses contribute to the greenhouse effect to a lesser degree. They include Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Methane (CH4).

As the title of the NASA report says, greenhouse gasses create an insulating "blanket around the Earth" that retains heat. 11

A mandate by Congress requires that a study be made of climate change every four years, that it be peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences, and that it be released to the public. On NOV-03, the Trump administration released the latest "Climate Science Special Report."

The study says, in part:

"This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.

In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities. Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor." 10

Ann Carlson, a Professor of Environmental Law at UCLA, was asked whether there has been any previous occasion when a federally mandated report contradicted the established policy of a U.S. administration. She responded:

"I can’t think of another circumstance where a report coming out of the administration completely contradicts the positions of cabinet officials and the president himself.  There is no nuance here: the report concludes -- consistent with the overwhelming scientific evidence -- that humans are the dominant cause of climate change and yet the administration either flat out denies the connection or completely minimizes it (except for a bit of finessing in confirmation hearings)."

Raj Shah, a spokesperson for the White House, said:

"The climate has changed and is always changing. As the Climate Science Special Report states, the magnitude of future climate change depends significantly on ‘remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate’ [to greenhouse gas emissions]."

This is a very important development, because getting the U.S. Government to pay attention and respond responsibly to climate change is a three step process:

  • 1: To admit that climate change is happening.

  • 2. To admit that climate change is primarily caused by human activities -- notably the burning of fossil fuels.

  • 3. To do attack the problem by lowering the emission rate of greenhouse gasses.

Shah has apparently admitted that the first is true. If the administration can admit that human activity is the cause, then the third and final step will be do do somthing about the problem.

Don't hold your breath.

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Novel, potentially unpoluting method of generating electricity under development:

Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

 

More developments are inevitable.

The problems aren't going to go away soon.

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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. Image downloaded from stock free images.com. #14075770. © Rufous
  2. Nick Duffy, "Pastor claims Hurricane Harvey was God’s punishment for Texas failure to pass anti-LGBT law," Pink News, 2017-AUG-31, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/12
  3. Kimberly Winston, "Where are the condemnations of Harvey as ‘God’s punishment’?," Salt Lake City Tribune, 2017-AUG-30, at: http://www.sltrib.com/
  4. Kevin Swanson, "Supreme Court: Reverse Obergefell Now! Time for a Day of Humility and Fasting," Generations, 2017-SEP-07, at: https://www.generations.org/
  5. Zakariavirk, "USA: God will stop tropical storm Irma if..." The Muslim Times, 2017-SEP-09, at: https://themuslimtimes.info/
  6. Brian Resnick & Eliza Barclay, "What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s hurricane disaster," Vox, 2017-SEP-29, at: https://www.vox.com/
  7. Evan Fraser, "Conflict and climate change lead to a rise in global hunger," originally published in The Conversation, 2017-OCT-03, at: https://theconversation.com/ Creative Commons license.
  8. "Paris accord: US and Syria alone as Nicaragua signs," BBC News, 2017-OCT-24, at: http://www.bbc.com/
  9. "Syria signs Paris Agreement - leaving US only country in the world to refuse climate change deal," Independent, 2017-NOV-07, at: http://www.independent.co.uk/
  10. Alex Kasprak, "White House Releases Report Contradicting Its Own Position on Climate Change," Snopes, 2017-NOV-03, at: https://www.snopes.com/
  11. "A blanket around the Earth," NASA - Global Climate Chhange, 2017-NOV-07, at: https://climate.nasa.gov/

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The following reports in this section that discuss environment and climate change may be of interest to you:

  • Part 1: 2013: Quotes. Background. Bay of Bengal incident. Decline in Canada's arctic ice cover.

  • Part 2: 2013/2014: Canada loses its seasons. 316 North American cities to be under water.

  • Part 3: 2013/2014: Christians, Republicans' & Democrats' beliefs differ. Volcanoes cause pauses in global warming. Americans' views on climate change.

  • Part 4: 2014/2015: How Americans viewed climate change. HFC limits. Groups abandoning ALEC. Paris Conference reaches agreement.

  • Part 5: 2016-FEB to AUG: Climate change concerns: Ocean levels rising. Displacement of animal species. Greenland glacier melting. "Third Pole" glaciers melting.

  • Part 6: 2016-SEP: Flooding on the U.S. East coast. U.S. and China ratify the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Pres. Obama: trends are "terrifying."

  • Part 7: 2016-SEP: Obama comments on warming (Continued). 31 countries ratify Paris agreement. Trump zigzags on Climate Change.

  • Part 8: 2016-Summer/Fall: Events showing that climate change is adversely affecting life on Earth

  • Part 9: 2016-OCT: Did God send Hurricane Matthew as an anti-LGBT message to humanity? Alternate opinions. Hurricane Matthew re-enters Atlantic Ocean.

  • Part 10: 2016-NOV: U.S. Costal real estate threatened. Rapid temperature rise in the Arctic. Very large poll about climate change.

  • Part 11: 2016-DEC: President-elect Trump's climate change beliefs. New heads of federal government departments. Extinction of 11 species.

  • Part 12: 2016-DEC: President-elect Trump's 16 promised plans on energy and the environment.

  • Part 13: star 2017-JAN: 2016 Was The Hottest Year On Record, Ever.

  • Part 14: star 2017-JAN: Recent climate change measurements.

  • Part 15: star 2017-JAN to APR: Climate Change beliefs are changing; more people accept it as real, and are now debating its cause.

  • Part 16: 2017-JAN to APR: Donald Trump Becomes President. EPA Foe Installed as Head of EPA! Hundreds Die During Flood in Colombia. Carbon Dioxide
    in Atmosphere Reaches New High.


  • Part 17: 2017-JAN to APR: Studies of the effects of sea-level rise in California between now and the year 2100.

  • Part 18: President Trump severs the U.S. from the Paris Accord. U.S. and world leaders react.

  • Part 19: 2017: More Reactions to the U.S. Withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

  • Part 20: star2017: Group of 20 summit meeting. Hurricane Harvey attacks Texas.Is climate change increasing the severity or frequency of hurricanes?

  • Part 21: Can government regulations help? Is Harvey a message from God? U.S. record high temperatures. Hurricane Harvey attacks Texas.
    Hurricane Irma attacks Caribbean, FL, SC, & GA.

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2017-OCT-15
Latest update: 2017-NOV-08
Author: B.A. Robinson


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