The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
'Unprecedented,' Historic Storm Dumps Trillions of Tons of Water on Texas
Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast this weekend, growing from a regenerated tropical depression into a Category 4 hurricane in less than 60 hours.
The now-tropical storm has stalled inland over Texas, and the entire Houston metropolitan region is now flooding.
With interstates under feet of water, and most of the streams and rivers near the city in flood stage, local authorities have asked boat owners to join rescue efforts. At least five people have died, and the city is prepping for thousands of evacuees this week. Officials predict 50 more inches of rain could be dumped on the area this week.
"It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway—but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably," Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research told The Atlantic.
According to The Atlantic:
"Storms like Harvey are helped by one of the consequences of climate change: As the air warms, some of that heat is absorbed by the ocean, which in turn raises the temperature of the sea's upper layers.
Harvey benefitted from unusually toasty waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm roared toward Houston last week, sea-surface waters near Texas rose to between 2.7 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average. These waters were some of the hottest spots of ocean surface in the world. The tropical storm, feeding off this unusual warmth, was able to progress from a tropical depression to a category-four hurricane in roughly 48 hours."
As reported by ThinkProgress:
"A Propublica/Texas Tribune project from last March detailed Houston's vulnerability to a major storm. The title of the project is 'Hell and High Water,' and it chronicles what could happen. 'A major hurricane here could bring economic and ecological disaster,' they wrote, including flood damage, destruction of entire low-lying neighborhoods, devastation to Galveston, and a massive disruption of our country's oil and shipping industries:
'Such a storm would devastate the Houston Ship Channel, shuttering one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Flanked by 10 major refineries—including the nation's largest—and dozens of chemical manufacturing plants, the Ship Channel is a crucial transportation route for crude oil and other key products, such as plastics and pesticides. A shutdown could lead to a spike in gasoline prices and many consumer goods—everything from car tires to cell phone parts to prescription pills.'
As Texans flee for higher ground, the oil and gas infrastructure that lines the state's coast will remain in the heart of the storm. There is a bitter irony to the idea that a storm, strengthened by human-caused climate change, carries the potential to destroy the very oil infrastructure that has contributed so much warming to our world."
For a deeper dive:
Climate change and Harvey: The Atlantic, New York Times, Washington Post, Time, ThinkProgress. Damage, flooding, rain: New York Times, AP, CNN, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Vox, Mashable, Grist, ThinkProgress, Newsy. Commentary: New York Times, Mimi Swartz column, USA Today, James Lee Witt op-ed, NPR, Dr. Neil Frank interview, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tony Messenger column. Background: Climate Signals
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.
The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.
By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia
In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."
Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.
Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against government officials involved in the Flint water crisis Thursday, citing concerns about the investigation they had inherited from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, CNN reported.