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Yet Another Billion-Dollar Climate Disaster

Why Hurricane Irene Is So Humongous

Here comes Hurricane Irene. So far this year, there have been ten separate billion-dollar disasters – more than in any previous year in U.S. history. And Irene could top the charts.

Why is this hurricane so powerful? Very simply, because the water she’s churning in is so warm – 85 degrees.

Let Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, and other clowns who pander to climate deniers keep telling us that there’s no climate change. Last year was the warmest ever recorded on Earth. The ice in the Arctic is at an all-time low. Floods all over the world, from the Mississippi basin to parts of Australia to Pakistan. All as predicted. And record droughts elsewhere: Russia, Texas, other parts of Australia.

It’s too late to debate whether we’re changing the climate with all the greenhouse gases we’re pouring into it. The only question now is whether we can mitigate the disasters that are now unfolding, and how we’re going to adapt to the new kind of planet we and, most of all, our children are going to be living on.

The latest plan of our government gives a depressingly clear answer. The administration is planning to go ahead with a green light to an energy project that will release untold quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere above the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, so that oil can be pumped from there down to New Orleans.

Those tar sands are the second-biggest pool of carbon on the continent; if we tap into them in a big way, says the federal government’s premier climate scientist James Hansen, it’s “essentially game over for the climate.”

That means Hurricane Irene will turn out to have been just a passing breeze compared to what’s on the way in coming years.

Check out this post from climate activist Bill McKibben on The Daily Beast for more on this.