Hurricane Florence – the price of science denial

Hurricane Florence has killed 18 people according to CBS News.

The killer storm became a tropical depression with sustained winds of over 48 kilometres per hour as at 5am South African time, and is causing flash flooding, as well as major river flooding over large parts of North and South Carolina.

Tornadoes are still a possibility.

Business Insider reports that in 2012 North Carolina’s property developers managed to talk the state government into banning the use of scientific predictions regarding rises in sea levels associated with climate change.

Their worry was that a 2010 assessment which found that sea levels could rise a meter by 2100 – and how this would hurt their property values.

The current storm forced the US to order 1.7 million people to evacuate.

The Independent reports that slow moving hurricanes – like Florence – have become more common over the past 70 years.

The storms have apparently slowed down as much as 10%, allowing them to do more damage. This appears to be one of the effects of climate change.

My Take

Climate change is pretty irrefutable by now, and we are at the point where we should not assume global action is going to happen to combat the problem.

North Carolina is not unique in how its government effectively, and recklessly, denied facts it would rather not face.

In South Africa that was Thabo Mbeki’s legacy with the AIDS crisis – he still, to this day, will argue that AIDS is caused by poverty.

As a consequence of Mbeki’s pigheaded nonsense, average life expectancy dropped under him.

Jacob Zuma I believe was a disaster as president. To my mind he was a crook to sold our government to the highest bidder, creating a situation where transformation stalled and unemployment soared.

A lot of the issues with Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency are predictable and natural consequences of the Zuma presidency. It is difficult to overstate how badly our government has been undermined by electing an unqualified crook to head it.

But Zuma was objectively better than Mbeki purely because under Zuma average life expectancy rose. You can get over periods of poverty, there is no getting over being dead.

Our history has shown the dangers of science denial, America is facing the same with climate change right now. They have elected a man who claimed on the campaign trail that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese.

The Republicans, when faced with facts that threaten their property values, ban the use of facts. They are in charge of America right now, and America has been the singular greatest block to any action of climate change for decades.

Where Mbeki failed South Africa, the US is set to fail the world.

Climate change has consequences for us in South Africa, the drought in the Western Cape being one of them.

Politically Hurricane Florence will change nothing, just as prior storms have changed nothing.

We have to operate on the assumption that climate change is coming, and there isn’t much we can do to stop it. That means we need to increase funding to our sciences in order to find ways to cope with it.

Right now we’re talking about land redistribution – what good is that, if the land is parched due to climate change? If we have a situation where you get the land just as the world’s climate turns it into wasteland, what is the point?

As America ignores science we need to embrace it, to find ways to keep our land productive as conditions change.

  • Picture of Hurricane Florence courtesy of Nasa.

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