As the country continues to dissect the recent natural disaster, we might want to start considering what about the disaster wasn’t actually “natural” at all. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were “unnaturally” high. Human activity, the burning of fossil fuels, is causing global warming. Global warming is causing the oceans to warm. Warm oceans are steroids for storms. Katrina began as a category 1 hurricane near Florida; after reaching the 90 degree waters of the Gulf it turned into a category 5 monster storm.
In addition, for years Louisiana has been losing a football field worth of wetlands every half-hour. Loss of wetlands makes surrounding areas more vulnerable to fierce storms. Why are we allowing that to happen? Are we going to continue to be a nation of regret? Will our reaction to every tragedy begin with the refrain “we should have heeded the warnings”? First 9/11, now Katrina -- is global warming next?
Scientists studying global warming have been predicting a scenario awfully close to what we are witnessing now: catastrophic weather causing flooding of whole cities, millions of displaced people, widespread disease, bug infestations, food shortages, poor people hardest hit, public health nightmares, economic crises. This is the face of global warming. This is the warning we are not heeding. England, Germany, France, and 150 other countries are listening. The United States is covering its ears. And for those who are saying that now is not the time to be talking about global warming… I couldn’t agree more. The time was a decade ago -- when scientists first started sounding the alarm.
As the mayor of New Orleans cried, “S.O.S.” The screams can’t be any louder.