Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change

Hurricane Sandy is predicted to potentially be the largest hurricane observed in the northeastern United States. Just last year, we got socked to the tune of $15.6 billion in damages by hurricane Irene.  Hurricanes, like heat waves and droughts are becoming more frequent and more extreme. This is what climatologists have been warning us will happen if we keep burning fossil fuels.
Every 24 hours humans pump 91 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere?  CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for over 100 years.  As a result, the CO2 concentration has jumped from an 800,000 average of 280 parts per million to today’s 393 parts per million. That’s a very sudden jump of 113 parts per million!
The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the hotter the atmosphere gets. The hotter the atmosphere gets, the more moisture it holds. The more moisture it holds the bigger and more frequent the storms get. As the atmosphere gets hotter it causes severe storms and flooding in some areas and heat waves cause severe droughts and wildfires in other areas. 
The CO2 we put in the atmosphere comes from burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. For example, with every gallon of gas you burn, you put 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere and that stays up there for over a hundred years. Even the Marcellus Shale natural gas that our government touts as our energy future is a fossil fuel and puts 117 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for every one million BTUs of energy it creates.  Keep in mind; we pump 91 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every 24 hours.
This summer we saw 75% of the Arctic Polar Ice Cap melt away, we saw record heat waves, droughts and wild fires, so there is now no doubt that global warming is happening. If we plan to survive on this planet, we have to stop burning oil, coal and natural gas as quickly as possible.
Think about it like this; you are in a car speeding toward a solid wall. If you speed past a given point, applying the brakes will be too late to avoid a fatal crash. We have already passed that line pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. We are passed the point of avoiding a collision but we still have a short window of time to prevent it from being fatal.
Politicians and fossil fuel industry people say it will hurt the economy to change to clean green energy. But, you know what? Switching to clean energy will boost our economy and create jobs. How many Katrina’s, Irene’s, and Sandy’s do we have to pay damages for before we figure it out?
 But, the most baffling consideration is: If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels right now when we hit the wall the economy will be a moot point!

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