2017 will forever be remembered as the year of the Hurricanes and one of the most costly to date, with an estimated $309 billion in damages, nearly doubled, when compared to the previous year. Back to back tropical depressions pummeled through the Caribbean, Florida and Texas, startling scientists, professional storm chasers and impeding humanitarian organizations to quickly adapt, much less governments and inter-governmental protocols.
The ferocity and destructiveness incurred by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, was the most catastrophic to date. The Caribbean, Barbuda and Dominica were totally destroyed, Puerto Rico was left without potable water and power for weeks and in some districts months (and still suffering). The British Virgin Islands (and its accompanying chain of smaller islands) was severely altered, especially affecting the islands dependency on the tourism industry.
The start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane is mere days away (in June). As we prepare, we do so with the memories and fears of past hurricanes and its destructive forces, but most importantly, we remember the pain and disruptions caused to people, their livelihood, their future sustainability, and the frightening prospects of more and more threatening hurricanes that may lie ahead in the immediate future.
While the Hurricanes of 2017 were extremely violent, naysayers argued that there is no direct correlation between Global Warming and Climate Change, and its direct influence of the severity of Hurricanes. Scientists too are still uncertain that a warmer climate will increase the number of hurricanes and its intensity going forward. What is certain though, is that empirical data clearly states that atmospheric Greenhouse gases are increasing along with global temperatures, creating a warmer world...a worrisome actuality indeed.
Hurricanes devours all in its path with a combination of devastatingly strong wind forces, rains, flooding and landslides. Additionally, these weather systems cause serious damages to inland and low lying coastal areas, disrupting total economies, quality of life, and the safety and enjoyment that we, as a people, are accustomed too. It is a frightening and costly thought indeed for the welfare of those urban developments that are built along the coastal areas.
Equally important and is typically underscored and overlooked, are the damages caused to the natural eco-systems and wildlife habitats, revealing fingerprints on a manmade trigger (cause) for climate change. These natural environments consisting of bird and fisheries habitat, as well as other living species, are equally overlooked and tremendously affected by these hurricanes. The cost to nature and natural eco-systems will never be known, and sadly, will never even get accounted for by the manmade non-natural banking and insurance systems or actuaries alike.
Photo: Kalle Gustafsson
Simply put, current research trends show that a warmer planet fuels more extreme weather events, causing more and more intense storms, droughts and rising sea levels (from melting polar caps), all of which can globally influence the severity of forthcoming Hurricanes and Cyclones. So what possible preventative method and mitigation policies can be used to prevent and protect against such a powerful force of nature? The answer is subjective. While we can invent and re-engineer systems to protect humans lives and property, the environment and ecosystems will always take a toll. It may seem that man’s priorities to continue causing global warming takes precedence, regardless of the other beautiful forms of life that coexist and share this planet with us, a battle which we will eventually lose.
Man will have to be resilient and adapt to more and more powerful hurricanes, but the question is, does living in damage control mode forever really makes sense? We will soon have to consider (without a doubt) and address the deeply imbedded root causes that triggers climate change. This means, we as society must become “smart” or “climate smart”, and embrace integrated solutions that will counter these root cause(s) of global warming affecting climate change. It cannot only be about building higher seawalls, and hurricane resistant infrastructures. We have to be holistic and considerate in thinking, on exactly how do we wish to achieve sustainability.
We humbly ask that each of you reading this blog will help in the dissemination of info learnt, so we can all be vocal, aware and supportive of the solutions and findings.
We, therefore, recognize the urgent need to profoundly innovate, and which is why we created the Rock against Poverty™ (RAP) initiative (augmented by today’s smart technologies to help the climate cause). Support RAP!