Between Rain, Death and Global Warming: Hurricane Ida



Once again the horrific consequences of global warming are manifesting in absolute chaos and tragedies. Hurricane Ida first started its journey of destruction in Louisiana on Sept. 1, 2021. Then the storm grew from category 1 status in the Gulf of Mexico to category 4 at landfall, marking the beginning of a tragedy. 

“The world is changing, right,” New Jersey’s mayor Phil Murphy told journalists during a news briefing on Thursday. “These storms are coming in more frequently, they’re coming in with more intensity,” he said. “And as it relates to our infrastructure, our resiliency, our whole mindset, the playbook that we use – we have got to leap forward and get out ahead of this.”

A rising death toll and casualties

As the water filled the basements, homes, and streets, the casualties increased. From Maryland to New York, reports show that the storm robbed at least 45 civilians of their lives.  According to the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio, at least 12 people died after getting trapped inside flooded basements. Moreover, reports attributed almost 23 of the casualties to New Jersey while reporting at least five deaths in Pennsylvania. 

Louisiana. New Orleans and Mississippi remained without electricity for several days after the storm destroyed a major transmission tower. Not only did the hurricane topple hundreds of homes and businesses, but it also caused almost $18 billion in damage. 

“Given the flooding and all the other impacts and the transportation and the costs of the materials being transported here, that could exacerbate costs,” stated Sridhar Manyem, director of industry research and analytics at A.M. Best.

The climate crisis and intensifying storms

With the ocean absorbing almost all of the greenhouse emissions trapped in the atmosphere, the temperature of the ocean rises. This creates the perfect conditions for intensification. And with a rapidly intensifying storm comes stronger winds, such as the ones accompanying Ida. Add these variables on top of higher sea levels, which is yet another consequence of climate change, and you’ll get a future filled with dangerous, unpredictable storms. 

Furthermore, the high levels of water vapor filling the region will, in return, cause more frequent and heavier downpours. So the cycle will simply keep on escalating. 

“We’re warming the atmosphere with the burning of fossil fuels, and we’re warming the oceans. With those two factors, there’s more moisture in the atmosphere now because it can evaporate from the oceans more readily into a warmer atmosphere that can accept more water vapor. And this is all contributing to the fuel that tropical storms need to intensify,” explains professor at New York University’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program, Robin Lloyd. 

Treating the disease

To save the world from global warming, scientists from all around the globe have been presenting numerous solutions since discovering the problem. However, many of these solutions can play a vital role in addressing the rapidly intensifying tropical storms. For many decades, the world dumped its waste gases into the atmosphere, despite knowing that such gases trap which in return fuel storms and further warm up the atmosphere. Thus, the glaring solution is to stop emitting these heat-trapping gases. The world as a whole must commit to its promises of reaching zero emissions. 

The beginning of a calamity

“When you get to record rainfalls in a week, it’s not just coincidence, when you get all the changes that we have seen in weather, that’s not a coincidence,” stated New York Senator, Chuck Schumer. “Global warming is upon us and it’s going to get worse and worse and worse unless we do something about it,” he said. 

For years scientists, activists, and environments warned against the looming dangers of global warming. But with greed stirring the wheel, the world’s elite paid the catastrophe no mind. Well, as the temperature continues to surge and catastrophes, like hurricane Ida, turn into every week occurrences,  it’s safe to conclude that the long-feared calamity has arrived. 

While addressing the current events, president Biden stressed that these catastrophes are “yet another reminder that these extreme storms in the climate crisis are here”.

“This destruction is everywhere,” he said. “It’s a matter of life and death and we are all in this together. This is one of the great challenges of our time but I’m confident we will meet it.”

Al Jazeera. (2021a, September 1). Hurricane Ida could cost insurers almost $18BN. Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/9/1/hurricane-ida-could-cost-insurers-almost-18bnAl Jazeera. (2021b, September 3). Ida death toll rises after storm hammers US Northeast. Climate News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/2/ida-death-toll-rises-to-18-after-hurricane-hammers-northeastBBC News. (2021, September 3). Storm Ida: Death toll climbs to 45 across four US north-east states. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58429853Lloyd, R. (2021, August 31). How Hurricane Ida Got So Big So Fast. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-hurricane-ida-got-so-big-so-fast/


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