Hurricanes and Global Warming

Starting off this Friday blog post with a picture of some white wildflowers I saw on my walk the other day. It has cooled off here in Texas, and the mornings are perfect for walking. I’m seeing a lot of these little flowers along the road and they dress the place up nicely. 

While people rant and argue on social media, calling names and sharing highly controversial messages and videos to stir the rancor, two really awful things happened in the past couple of weeks that aren’t getting as much attention as the Kavanaugh hearings and the mid-term elections.

First is Hurricane Michael that slammed into the Florida Panhandle with winds up to 155 miles per hour, destroying almost everything in its path. Mexico Beach, a small town on the coast took the brunt of the storm as Michael made landfall, and now there is not much left of the town but leveled buildings, downed trees, and piles of debris scattered across places where homes used to stand.

The destruction includes boats and docks, and over a million people are without electricity.

Six people died.

This is the worst storm to hit Florida in recorded history and one of the worst to hit the Continental United States in decades. In an article by John Schwartz for The New York Times, Haiyan Jiang, an associate professor in the department of earth and environment at Florida International University, offered several reasons why the storm gained intensity from a tropical depression to a category four hurricane so quickly. One of those reasons has to do with climate change and global warming.

The Gulf of Mexico has warmer-than-average waters, which in some places was up by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or two degrees Celsius. “One to two degrees is a big deal,” she said.

Warmer sea surface temperatures, while subject to natural variation, are consistent with the effects of climate change.

And still people deny that global warming is a problem.

Remember the movie, “Waterworld”? According to a recent report from the UN Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change that could be our world in 2040. An article by Rohan Smith in has the details of the report that was compiled by 6000 scientists around the world. The article has all of their findings, but the gist of the report is this: If we don’t curb global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences.

For an in depth look at the rate of global warming and the sharp increase since the 1980s, visit an article on The Union of Concerned Scientists website. It contains a wealth of information, as well as some telling graphs.

The other bit of news being overlooked by many on social media here in the United states is about, Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist, who disappeared from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul October 2. He was at the consulate to obtain some papers verifying his divorce so he could marry again, but he was never seen leaving. Outside, his fiance waited hours for him, but she never saw him again.

What happened to the journalist is still a mystery, one mixed with a touch of horror if rumors of his death and dismemberment turn out to be true. An article in by Alexia Underwood, has more on the theories of what happened to Jamal, including the possibility that Saudi hit-men killed Jamal and took his body out in pieces, using a number of suitcases and boxes.

From my perch high up in my tree of idealism, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around some of the awful things people will do to each other, and for some reason this story about Jamal is still swirling around in my mind, trying to find reason.

Maybe because I’m a journalist.

Maybe because I live in a country that has free speech.

We should never take the freedom of speech we have here in the United States for granted. Even if that freedom is filled with rants and name calling and ugly rhetoric. We can ignore the ugly stuff. We can chose to keep silent, or we can jump into the fray. But, hopefully, we will never be “disappeared” for our beliefs.

That is the lesson I have taken from the sad story of Jamal Khashoggi.

Now that I may have thoroughly distressed you, I’ll end with a couple of jokes to lighten the mood and start the weekend with a smile. Enjoy…

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

Two old timers were talking after church one day and the one asks the other, “So tell me brother, what did you think of the soul food this morning?”

The other replies, “The food was excellent but the service sucked!”

I told my wife I was going to make a bike out of spaghetti. She couldn’t believe it when I rode pasta.

Oh, what a groaner.

Have a great weekend. Be safe, Be happy.

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