As Major Floods Devastate Across Globe, Warnings That Bigger Storms 'Are on the Way'
Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall again on Wednesday, this time battering the Louisiana coast, while south Asia and western Africa also experience major flooding as well. The extreme weather puts a spotlight on the Trump administration’s “reckless climate denial,” as experts warn that the warming planet means even stronger storms are yet to come.
After Harvey walloped Texas with “simply mind-blowing” amounts of rain, it’s left at least 14 people dead, over 30,000 displaced, triggered the release of hazardous pollutants, and unleashed a potential public health nightmare and a recovery effort likely years-long.
The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday morning that “catastrophic and life threatening flooding will continue in and around Houston, Beaumont/Port Arthur, eastward into southwest Louisiana for the rest of the week.”
Harvey hit the Bayou state early Wednesday morning, and is now headed northeast. It’s expected to drop 3 to 6 inches from the southwestern part of the state through Kentucky through Friday with isolated amounts up to 10 inches.
“We are dealing with a state that has already had a lot of rain this summer, so we are very aware and conscious of the potential for flooding,” Louisiana National Guard spokesman Col. Ed Bush said.
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As U.S. corporate media focus on Harvey’s ongoing destruction, “the worst monsoon floods to hit South Asia in more than a decade” have left over 1,200 people dead across northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh.
Over 40 million people have been affected, with wide swathes of farmland destroyed.
“I could not find a single dry patch of land,” said Matthew Marek, the head of disaster response in Bangladesh for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. “Farmers are left with nothing, not even with clean drinking water.”
Capturing such devastation in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Hanna Butler, communications manager for Red Cross in the Pacific, captured these images on Twitter:
Torrential rains have also been blamed for recent flooding in Niger. The BBC reports: “Flooding is a recurrent problem in Niger, but this year more than 40 people have died since the rainy season began in June.” The flooding has also destroyed hundreds of homes. That country’s flooding comes on the heels of flooding and mudslides in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, which left over 1,000 people dead.
As for Harvey, among the expert voices Agence France-Presse has collected linking the storm to climate change is Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“A logical consequence of global warming is a global increase of extreme rainfall events. In the case of Harvey, it is the heavy rain—and the resulting flooding—which is the greatest threat. A global increase of daily rainfall records is indeed seen in the rainfall observations. This trend will continue as long as we keep pushing up global temperatures by emitting greenhouse gases,” he told the news agency.
“Whether we can attribute Harvey to global warming—as with any individual weather event—is a questionable proposition. But it is very likely that many more storms like Harvey and Katrina and bigger ones yet are on the way,” added Jeffrey Kargel, a professor a the University of Arizona.
But taking urgent action to rein in greenhouse gas emissions has clearly been no priority of the Trump administration.
Reacting to President Donald Trump’s comments about Harvey’s damage, climate mobilization group 350.org denounced his “his short-sighted and destructive policies” that will lead to more devastation like that Houston and Corpus Christi are now experiencing.
“While Donald Trump claims that ‘protecting lives’ is his highest priority, it is his own policies that will make recovery from superstorms like Hurricane Harvey much worse. This is an unnatural disaster fueled by the reckless climate denial that is a hallmark of this administration. Just a week before the storm made landfall, Trump signed an executive order rolling back safety standards for flood protection. The Administration has prioritized fossil fuel projects, slashed environmental reviews, and rolled back critical climate protections. In early June, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, clearly siding with fossil fuel billionaires over the millions of Americans who want climate action,” said May Boeve, the group’s executive director.
“As Hurricane Harvey continues to wreak havoc, it is imperative the elected officials across the country stand up against climate denial and demand that the Administration and Congress commit to long term climate action. This is the only way to build a world where families can live free from the fear of climate chaos,” she said.