Two residents paddle though their flooded neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday. (David Goldman/AP)
For the past two weeks, Americans have been gripped by the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey. This only intensified over the weekend with the landfall of Hurricane Irma. The recovery from these catastrophic storms will take months, if not years. As the focus shifts from recovery to planning for the future, people will undoubtedly focus on climate change. While the science suggests that severe weather will become more frequent thanks to global warming, it is difficult to say that global warming caused any specific storm. Scientists, however, are more certain that effects of climate change are making storms like Hurricane Harvey worse.
This raises an awkward political question — do extreme weather events like hurricanes change people’s minds about whether global warming is taking place? Some, like Sarah Posner at The Washington Post, note that millions in Florida are without power, and hope that “these storms will be a wake-up call for Republican voters, if not for their leaders.” Activists and politicians use extreme weather events to push for more action on climate change.
Yet the assumption that extreme weather …read more
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