I cannot be the only one who saw the articles being shared on facebook, encouraging gun owners to shoot at them? It was a facebook group claiming “LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST.” I also saw that several thousand Floridians (?) attached fans to their roofs attempting to ‘blow’ the hurricane away… Definitely not how to stop a hurricane.

Needless to say we need an actual plan to combat these hurricanes. Which seem to be hitting North America and the surrounding islands at increasing frequency. Maybe my memory serves me wrong, but were there really three crazy hurricanes in a year last year? Watch me almost cry about what this means for the polar bears.

Scientific research does have varying conclusions, but whether the global warming is due to Anthropogenic reasons or the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, we are in store for higher intensity hurricanes with an increased destructive potential per storm. Some reports say that this increase in intense storm occurence will mean fewer sepparate hurricanes, but that more will be in that category 4 and 5.

Hurricanes over the past 100 years

How Are Hurricanes Formed?

The name “Hurricane” has been given to tropical cyclones formed over the Atlantic Ocean or Eastern Pacific Ocean. Tropical cyclones are fuelled by warm, moist air and therefore only form over warm water oceans near the equator. This air rises up from the surface of the water, leaving less air near the surface : causing an area of lower air pressure below. Air surrounding this low pressure area pushes into the ‘vacant’ space, until it too beomes warm and moist and rises. The warmed, moist air rises to a point where it cools and forms clouds, at which the whole system spins and grows.

Funfact : storms that form north of the equator spin counter clockwise, while storms south of the equator spin clockwise.

As the storm system keeps spinning and growing, an eye forms in the center. An area of calm and low pressure. The higher pressure air from above tunnels through the eye. The speed of the rotating storm determines its destructiveness, and has been classified according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Effects of Climate Change

While cyclones and hurricanes have been a normal part of living on earth for.. as long as humans can remember, and severe storms such as Irma have been seen before, there seems to be something ominous about 2017. Irma definitely broke some records including.

  • Irma sustained 297km/h winds for 37 hours, which is the longest any cyclone on earth (in recorded history) has mainted that intensity.
  • Irma’s maximum sustained wind speed of 297km/h made it the second strongest storm after Allen in 1988 which reached 305km/h
  • Irma tied with 1932 Cuba Hurricane for the longest lifetime of a category 5 storm : 3.25 days
  • Irma generated the most Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) in the tropical atlantic
  • Its ACE calcuated by the intensity, size and duration, generated enough energy to satisfy NOAA definition of average hurricane season. Meaning that since 1966 there have been 18 seasons which haven’t generated as much energy as this one hurricane.

There are always outliers in natural disasters, but 2017 in all, is looking pretty bleak. Lets just recap what has happened so far.

  • California has been on fire
  • Washingtong on fire
  • Oregon on fire
  • Montana on fire
  • Colorado on fire
  • Idaho on fire
  • British Columbia on fire
  • Greece on fire
  • Brazil on fire
  • Portugal on fire
  • Algeria on fire
  • Tunisian on fire
  • Greenland on fire
  • Sakha republic of Russia on fire
  • Siberia on fire.

That was just the enormous wild fires in the northern hemisphere mind you, not even bringing into the Australian ones.

  • Texas underwater
  • Florida underwater
  • Record monsoons in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh with enormous death tolls.
  • Sierra Leona and Niger experiencing flooding, mudslides and thousands of deaths.

Europe is relatively relaxed in comparison, however they did experience the hottest year on record.

  • Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia nicknamed their summer het wave Lucifer.
  • Southern California is still in a drought

Just have a look at temperature anomalies aranged by country from 1990-2016. 2017 is continueing in this trend.

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

It is true that our earth goes through cycles of hotter and colder years, which has been dubbed the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The AMO is an ongoing series of changes in sea surface temperature, oscillating in 20-40 year periods for at least the past 1,000 years. The AMO effects air temperatures and rainfalls in the northern hemisphere, and therefore has an association with the frequency of severe atlantil hurricanes. To be exact, the predictions are that during the warm phase of the AMO there are at least twice as many hurricanes to be expected.

We have been in the warm phase since mid-1990, this increase in natural disasters should just be expected? No?

Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Anthropogenic Climate Change

That could we all well and fine, if we were to ignore the enormous amount of green house gases being pumped into the atmosphere just in the past few hundred years. Scientists measure how much CO2 has been in our atmosphere by digging into ice and testing, what was water up to 800,000 years ago.

The trends they have found that CO2 levels have fluctuated between 170 and 300 pars per million by volume (ppmv) corresponding with conditions of glacial and interglacial periods. The highest pre-industrial value recorded in 800,000 years was 298ppmv, around 330,000 years ago. Since the industrial ties, measurements conducted in 2010 at Cape Grim Tasmania and the South Pole both indicate values of 386ppmv increasing at a rate of 2ppmv/year.

Ice that has been frozen for millenia is now thawing, just check out my journey to the Aletsch-Jungfrau Glacier in the Swiss Alps. Endangering lives all over the world. We are currently living in the next mass extinction, but this time, humans are the cause.

In 2014 the level of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere was 43% higher than at the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. The annual global carbon emissions were some 9.795 gigatonnes in 2014, and increasing everyyear. Can you even imagine a gigaton?

As we know, these emissions range from cars, factories, deforestation, burning coal and unfortunately, 51% is due to animal agriculture.

So.. How to stop a hurricane?

The best thing we can do, is to try stop the amount of emissions going up into our atmosphere, which in turn is warming the oceans, which is increasing the frequency of hurricanes and other natural disasters around the world.

The number 1. thing of course is

  1. Vote for Renewable Energies. Back candidates and parties which are prioritising the Paris Climate Agreement and see that your city, county, state or country are working towards Wind, Solar or Hydro power!
  2. Cut out that meat. I am serious, the greatest singular thing you can do as an individual to HALVE. Yes, let me repeat that, HALVE. As in cut down by 50%, eliminate 1/2 off your carbon emissions is to stop eating meat! Beef in particular is extremely unsustainable. So please, pick our planet over your taste buds?
  3. Fly Less. Another huge carbon dioxide emission is travel, whether this is by plane (by far the worst), train or car. Try and pick the more environmentally friendly option. Offset your carbon, drive carpool, pick up your bike, use public transport.. Or invest in a TESLA.. I know I will when I can
  4. Stop Being A Crazed Consumer. Do you really need the latest gadgets? The fast fashion trends? The cheap and poor quality shoes? Invest in quality items, go to second hand shops, trade with friends.
  5. Reuse and Repair. Take a leaf out of our grandparents book. Maybe not the trudging to school through six meters of snow every day up a hill both ways, but our grandparents definitely do know a great deal about reusing materials. My grandmother can sew up just about anything, my grandfather could fix any house hold object. Chose to fix things in your life rather than throw them away. There is no away.
  6. Spread the Message. Talk about these things with your friends and family. Our planet deserves better. Hell, if you don’t care about the planet, don’t your kids deserve better? Or your grandkids?

I honestly do not know how our earth will survive if the natural disasters we have seen (just halfway into 2017) will keep happening for the next few years. How will the people be able to keep rebuilding their homes? I know human kind is resilient, but looking at the world there are truly few safe places left. Whether its war or the path of hurricanes.

Keep strong, keep together. Unity and love for each other and the planet are all we can have.

RIP to everyone who did not get away from the countless natural disasters this year.