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Posted: September 6, 2017

Hurricane Harvey, our current drought and climate change

“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

Aside from death, heartbreak and destruction, Hurricane Harvey has proved one thing about Americans – don’t judge them by their bombastic president, an unrepentant climate change denier!

All over Houston the past week – and all over Texas for that matter – local heroes and Good Samaritans have been engaging in acts of courage and heroism as they rescue their fellow hurricane victims and show the fundamental decency that still lies at the heart of the American Dream.

Lately that dream has been much maligned as President Donald Trump stumbles from crisis to crisis demonstrating his total incompetence to occupy the Oval Office or any position requiring empathy, insight and an IQ above 60.

But in water-logged Houston, ordinary Americans have been coming to the fore in boats, helicopters and even jet skis to save their neighbors trapped on roof tops or clinging to trees from the 50 inches of rain – over four feet! – dropped on Texas in three days by one of the most malevolent and powerful storms of the century. And the worst could be yet to come as disabled oil refineries up and down the Texas and Louisiana coasts leak toxic chemicals into the drinking water of millions of people. What has happened in Texas is nothing less than a meteorological catastrophe and it makes you wonder if there aren’t more to come as climate change seems to grow stronger with every passing year.

Remember February in Cranbrook? Four feet of snow on the ground, or more than 120 centimetres, in what was quickly dubbed “snowmageddon” because no one could remember snow that deep in the city before. And now we’re in the throes of a drought that has seen no significant rainfall from June to September and the largest amount of timber burned in B.C.’s history. And it’s still burning!

Ironically, this has linked B.C. to Texas because there’s been no lack of local heroes here courageously rescuing people as well as saving homes, livestock and pets.

But it looks like this is something we’re going to have to get used to because climate change is the new reality of our times and nothing is going to stop it. Weather calamities used to be a once-in-a-generation event. Now they’re becoming regular occurrences as we’ve seen twice in our part of the world this year.

What good is a hot, dry summer like this when you can’t enjoy it because of the smoke? Yet there are still climate change deniers out there saying this is nothing new and we’ve always had weather extremes.

Don’t let this silliness fool you.

Yes, there have always been weather extremes, but they are coming much faster now. Hurricane Harvey grew from a tropical depression to a category four hurricane in 57 hours, fooling everyone including meteorologists and gave its victims little time to prepare.

Remember the horrific fire season of 2003 when 238 homes burned in Kelowna and Cranbrook barely dodged the bullet with the Lamb Creek blaze? Remember Fort McMurray? Need I say more?

Former presidential candidate Al Gore, author of “An Inconvenient Truth,” which climate change deniers love to denigrate, has a new book coming out in November titled “Our Choice.” In it, Gore says the truth about climate change is as inconvenient as ever, but he also offers hope: “There is an old African proverb that says, if you want to go quickly, go alone. But If you want to go far, go together.”

So, if we want to go “far,” we should stop arguing if climate change exists and deal with it together. After a monster storm like Hurricane Harvey, I’m willing to bet many climate change deniers in Houston are rethinking their position now.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and a weather nut, who has had enough of the heat and smoke this summer.

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