Michael Breen, CEO and President of Truman Center of National Policy and Truman National Security Project, discussed the relationship between recent natural disasters and climate change for Defense One. 

“As America mourns at least 60 people killed by Hurricane Harvey and begins to count the toll from Irma, political discourse in the United States is rightly focused on what can be done to recover from the vast, costly devastation wrought by these superstorms. The clear increase in frequency and intensity of these storms also means it’s time to revisit the national security threat posed by a changing climate.”

“While climate change is not the sole cause of Harvey and Irma, it certainly worsened their destructive effects—a fact we must acknowledge and accommodate if we are to reduce our risk and mitigate future disasters. The science on this point is clear, and you don’t have to be a meteorologist to see cause and effect.”

In essence, human-generated greenhouse gases have trapped heat in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise. These warmer temperatures, particularly over the oceans, increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, which can lead to more massive rainfalls like we saw with Harvey. Meanwhile, the storm surge that flooded Houston’s homes and communities was made even higher by rising sea levels. There is even some evidence that climate change has reduced the kind of winds that can steer hurricanes away from land.”

“As with any threat, we must prioritize risk assessment and prevention if we are to avoid suffering the same consequences again and with greater frequency. Yet last month, President Trump rolled back an existing policy ordering that infrastructure projects must be designed to survive rising sea levels. This all but guarantees that what happened to Houston will happen elsewhere…”

Read the full article here. Views expressed are his own.