Op-Ed: Hurricane Ian and the coming climate crash
Hurricane Ian, which is heading toward Hurricane Irene’s path, could be the most destructive to hit the United States in recent years. Not only will it bring record-breaking winds and rain, but it’s capable of breaking at least seven other climate records
I watched Hurricane Irene sweep across the Mid-Atlantic on Sunday, causing widespread destruction in the Northeast, and though the storm caused my family a great deal of anxiety, my focus remained on what it would mean to the planet if the United States experienced a strong hurricane like Irene.
As it approached, a few days before Irene, a team of climate scientists and other researchers released a report suggesting that the Earth’s future could be grimly affected by a coming warming of the planet. In the report, they suggested that at least half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – that is, the carbon dioxide and methane that scientists believe is the most damaging part of fossil fuel emissions – will have to be removed from the atmosphere by 2100. Their analysis, they wrote, shows that the United States and China will lose the most if their emissions are unabated and that it’s “very likely” that the world would see the largest temperature increase if emissions remain as they are. (Note: The second line of the U.S.’s emissions for 2008, for example, reads “Emissions from fossil fuels in 2008 were 9.3 million metric tons.” A Metric Ton is equal to the weight of 3,280 pounds.)
The scientists suggested that the world’s emissions would have to peak sometime around 2020 before the world could achieve a 2 degree Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) rise in average temperature. By 2100, they calculated, emissions would have to be cut in half and the temperature rise would be closer to 1.5 degrees Celsius. They noted that the report was an “empirical assessment of what the climate would look like