Hurricane Harvey unleashed a torrent of rain, causing devastating flooding in southeast Texas and Houston. In central Texas, we received rain and wind but escaped the worst of it. Many of us have been volunteering to assist those affected. It’s heartening to see Texans pitch in to help Texans.
As we reflect on this storm and its impact on the lives of our friends, family, and neighbors, let’s consider the ways in which climate change contributed to the intensity of the storm.
Melting glaciers and ice have caused seas to rise, which contributed to a higher storm surge. Sea level in Galveston has risen by six inches since 2000. Warmer ocean and atmospheric temperatures increased total rainfall. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico where Harvey intensified were 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than average temperatures a few decades ago. That relates to 3 to 5% more moisture in the atmosphere.
“That large amount of moisture creates the potential for much greater rainfalls and greater flooding. The combination of coastal flooding and heavy rainfall is responsible for the devastating flooding that Houston is experiencing,” said atmospheric scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University. Andrew Dressler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M, said, “I’ve talked to many scientists over the last few days and none seriously dispute that global warming made impacts worse.”
Our District 21 Congressman Lamar Smith is in a powerful position to address the reality of human-caused global warming. Yet as the chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology committee, he has done the opposite by criticizing scientists, advocating for reduced funding, and supporting the Republican administration in rolling back policies that mitigate climate change.
Now is the time to call Lamar Smith with your personal story of a friend or family member affected by Hurricane Harvey. Remind him that he represents you and that you oppose his policies on climate change and global warming. For good measure, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a request for a public town hall.
Lamar Smith office phone numbers:
San Antonio: 210-821-5024