Like many of you, the Surfrider Foundation has been closely monitoring the hurricanes sweeping across Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean over the past few weeks. Some of our Chapters, Board members and Staff were impacted by the hurricanes. We are saddened by the loss of life and suffering created by these historic hurricanes, however, we are extremely heartened to see the massive humanitarian response and people from across the county volunteering to help communities. In the coming weeks, these communities will need continued support. Surfrider believes one of the most important ways to help is to support local organizations. We put together this blog highlighting organizations that are on the ground assisting those most in need. In addition, a Surfrider Board member who lives in Puerto Rico established a GoFundMe page to help raise funds that go directly to first responders providing basic needs and relief in the Rincón area of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has been particularly devastated where 3.5 million people are lacking basic resources and power.
Scientists acknowledge that while climate change did not cause the recent hurricanes, it certainly intensified the storms. In fact, climate change will continue to intensify weather events in the future due to the fact that both ocean and atmosphere temperatures are increasing—which is the equivalent to adding kindling to a fire. The recent monsoons in South Asia are another example of how climate change is intensifying storms. Scientists say that warmer atmospheric temperatures allow clouds to hold more moisture and thus produce more rain. The recent monsoons in Southeast Asia were so severe that over 41 million people were displaced and over 1,200 people died. Fortunately, the monsoon season is coming to an end in Southeast Asia and we hope those impacted will continue to receive international assistance. View organizations who are assisting those impacted by the monsoons.
Ocean Circulation System Shifting
In our last Climate Change Roundup blog, we noted that Arctic temperatures are rising at twice the global average rate. In fact, satellite images indicate that “September Arctic sea ice” is 30% less today than it was in 1979. Increased temperatures are causing Arctic ice to melt faster than scientists predicted. Now there is new evidence indicating that Arctic melting is impacting the planet’s ocean circulation system. Scientists acknowledge the shifting ocean circulation anomaly is emerging and concerning, yet they admit they have no idea what this holds for the future since this is uncharted territory.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WATCH
Recently, President Trump signed an Executive Order to roll back important standards set by former President Obama that require the federal government to account for climate change impacts and sea level rise when building and rebuilding infrastructure—this shortsighted decision was made just weeks before the destruction from Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. As we have seen with the recent extreme weather around the world, one of the most important ways to save lives and important environmental resources is to move infrastructure out of harm’s way. Hopefully, local municipalities will be more mindful of climate change impacts when approving local development. In positive news, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just released its Fourth Edition of Climate Change Indicators in the U.S. It is reassuring the agency is still publishing this important report, especially considering the Trump administration and EPA Administrator Pruitt have been trying to squelch climate change information and research conducted by the EPA. The EPA partners with more than 40 contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to compile a key set of indicators related to the causes and effects of climate change.
Rounding Out the Funny
Leave it to David Letterman and Al Franken to make climate change funny. These two comedic geniuses have teamed up together to raise awareness about climate change.