How Hurricanes Can Change the Climate

How Hurricanes Can Change the Climate

Op-Ed: Hurricane Ian and the coming climate crash: How a natural-disaster can turn a country against the clean energy it needs, and how the Trump-led US can turn back the tide for good.

In the spring of 2017, as Hurricane Florence was bearing down upon the United States, I asked myself how I could best respond to a major natural catastrophe in a country that was currently facing its worst ever drought.

I did not take too kindly to the question. For a start, it seemed presumptuous on my part. No one asked me to come up with a solution to the problem of climate change.

I had done a lot of thinking about how hurricanes might impact climate – in particular their effects on water – but had never put together a cogent argument to support my position.

I had been thinking about this a few years earlier when Hurricane Sandy had almost devastated New York and New Jersey. The storm had killed 1,000 people, cut power to millions, flooded neighborhoods and roads, and caused extensive damage to the climate.

It was hard to comprehend my indifference to that disaster – the thought of the devastation facing my community, and the way others were coping with it, must have filled me with anger.

I knew that I had to do something.

After Hurricane Sandy

In the months following the storm, I reached out to my friends and colleagues who had been hit hardest by Sandy, people who I had never met – in some cases I had only spoken on the phone.

Among them was Mark Johnson, a New York City electrician. The next time I visited him he was spending a few days at home working to get some much-needed power restored. He had no electrician’s license, but was doing all he could to restore power to his house.

Just a few months after Sandy, Mark was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. But before the cancer took his life, it took the power of a single, powerful hurricane.

“The only way that you can make it through a storm like Sandy is if you have a plan for getting you through it,” he said. “There was no way I could do the restoration myself.”

In October 2017, Mark

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