extreme weather

2018 Was a Year of Deadly Climate Disasters and an 'Ear Splitting Wake-Up Call'

Read time: 9 mins
Hurricane Florence flooding

2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record — and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones, and, in Death Valley, a five day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

2018 also brought the world’s highest-ever low temperature, as nighttime temperatures fell to a sizzling 109°F in Quiryat, Oman, on June 28, smashing a 2011 record-high low.

A startling 95 percent of the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is now gone — and we’re losing Arctic ice at a rate of 14,000 tons per second, according to recent research, three times as fast as roughly three decades ago.

It was a year notable both for its overwhelming, climate-fueled impacts as well as its gut-wrenching predictions for what climate change still has in store for us if we fail to act. So much happened, frankly, that it's been hard to keep it all straight.

Fossil Fuels and Climate Denial Still Reign in Louisiana Despite Scientists’ Dire Warnings for the State

Read time: 7 mins
Christmas lights on homes across from the Meraux Refinery in Meraux, Louisiana

Louisiana is ground zero for the devastating impacts of climate change. Even though the state is already feeling the costly impacts to life and property due to extreme weather and an eroding coastline linked to a warming planet, its government continues to ignore the primary cause — human use of fossil fuels.

The impacts to the region, such as worsening floods, heat waves, and sea level rise, will only be intensified as the globe continues warming, warn federal scientists in the latest National Climate Assessment report.

But instead of heeding scientists’ warnings, Louisiana’s government continues to welcome the prospects of new billion-dollar petrochemical plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, and an oil export hub, all without a mention of their climate change impacts. 

Man Whose Mexico Beach House Was One of Last Standing After Hurricane Michael Calls out Climate Denier Politicians

Read time: 9 mins
Hurricane damaged sign that below says 'there is always hope'

In Mexico Beach, Florida, Russell King’s house is the only beachfront property that survived Hurricane Michael with little damage. But the fact it survived the latest record-breaking hurricane doesn’t give King peace of mind. Can it withstand the next storm that comes its way?

Climate scientists predict that storms will continue to intensify, and King takes this to heart, worrying the next one could take down his house. I met King on October 14, four days after Hurricane Michael made landfall and wiped out a large portion of Mexico Beach, a small town on Florida’s panhandle. The storm swept into the area with winds of up to 155 miles per hour (mph), just two shy of reaching a Category 5 storm designation

South Carolina Still Grappling with Historic Flooding from Florence, a Storm Worsened by Climate Change

Read time: 7 mins
April O'Leary kayaks to her flooded home in Conway, South Carolina

South Carolina was spared the worst of Hurricane Florence’s fury when the storm made landfall in North Carolina on September 14, but did not escape its catastrophic impacts. Nearly two weeks later, the state was still contending with historic flooding. 

2017 Weather and Climate Disasters Cost US Record $306 Billion

Read time: 3 mins
LA Firefighting helicopter drops water on a burning home near Burbank, CA in 2017

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. According to a new reportfrom the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record.”

The federal agency listed several noteworthy events, including the wildfires in the west, with total costs of $18 billion, tripling the previous U.S. annual wildfire cost record.

2017 in Photos: Capturing the Causes and Impacts of Climate Change

Read time: 4 mins
A dance troop marches past a Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana's annual Christmas parade

The year 2017 was, in many ways, stormy. It brought more storms super-sized due to global warming and more people, including scientists, taking to the streets in response to the political climate.

This year for DeSmog I continued documenting a range of issues related to climate change, from extreme weather enhanced by it to the expanding industrial landscape contributing to it. 

2017 in Photos (3)

Read time: 3 mins

2017 in Photos (2)

Read time: 2 mins

Pruitt’s Plan to Debate Climate Science Paused as Science Confirms Human Link to Extreme Weather

Read time: 7 mins
Chairs floating in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters in Houston, Texas

The same week that a slew of new scientific reports confirmed just how much humans are changing the climate, and in turn, the rest of the planet, Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt’s plans for a “Red Team, Blue Team” debate of this very same science were put on hold.

The military-style exercise that would falsely pit the overwhelming majority of climate scientists against a handful of non-experts is an eight-year-old talking point of the notorious climate-denying think tank the Heartland Institute (which is likely not surprised by this development). Meanwhile, last week in New Orleans, several groups of prominent climate scientists shared their latest findings at the world's largest gathering of Earth and planetary scientists. The roughly 25,000 attendees of the American Geophysical Union annual meeting included scientific leaders from academia, government, and the private sector.

Minority Communities Suffer from Storms as GOP and Trump Admin Promote Oil and Gas

Read time: 7 mins
Pat Harris in her storm-damaged housing complex in Port Arthur, Texas

While victims in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still reeling from the devastation of three hurricanes worsened by a warming climate, the Trump administration and GOP senators in the Gulf continued to push fossil fuel extraction.

On October 18, two senators who reject the science of climate change, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), teamed up to introduce a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for exporting small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG). And on October 24, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed the largest ever sale of oil and gas leases in the United States. The plan would offer nearly 77 million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for auction to the fossil fuel industry.

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