By Hannah Gartner
On October 23rd
Hurricane Patricia made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Thishurricane, which was the strongest ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, narrowly missed causing severe damage despite reaching wind speeds of 200 mph. A week later no deaths have been reported and the damage is limited to flooding and mudslides within rural Mexico. This is due to a few factors, namely the fact that Patricia avoided a direct hit to more populated areas such as Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, and that once on land it lost power very quickly. An excellent response from the government also made a huge difference in mitigating the damage.
This storm is just the latest to be added to the list of record shattering weather events. Although the research is ongoing, there is indication that global warming will cause an increase in storms to this caliber. Last August The Weather Channel published a list of the top ten most powerful hurricanes to ever occur within the Atlantic. Five of these storms have taken place since 2000, and only two occurred before 1950. It seems that the intensity of storms is on an upward trend. Some climate scientists even predict that we will have a storm on the level of Hurricane Katrina every two years.
Other natural phenomena are also on the rise due to global warming. California is currently entering its forth year of draught and has been consistently recording its highest on average temperatures. On the other end of the spectrum, the record shattering snow in New England last winter has been attributed the disruption of the Arctic polar vortex which is occurring through global warming. These two examples only scratch the surface of the many instances of changing weather.
After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, Yeb Sano, the country’s climate change representative, said the following words in front of the United Nations: “We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.” After seeing his country destroyed by this storm he knew he had experienced climate change first hand. Action must be taken to slow down, stop, and reverse the degradation of the natural world or these storms will become the norm. We cannot count on the luck that Mexico received last week. There is hope, but only if business does not continue as usual.