Culture

Gongloff: Hurricane Beryl makes a mockery of Texas climate deniers


Pop quiz time: Which U.S. state is the most vulnerable to climate-fueled weather disasters and soaring home-insurance costs but is also growing rapidly and has a government hostile to the very concept of climate change? The most obvious answer is Florida, with its hurricanes and floods and anti-woke, stunt-loving governor. The correct answer, however, is Texas.

No other state has suffered more climate-related damage over the past several decades than the Lone Star State — not even Florida, California or Louisiana. Home-insurance costs rose more in Texas than in any other state last year and over the past five years, according to S&P Global. And though Gov. Ron DeSantis has outlawed the mention of climate change in Florida, Texas’ aggressive pro-global-warming policies have real teeth and will continue to do real harm. Especially to Texas.

On Monday, the state was slammed by the third incarnation of Hurricane Beryl, which had been re-re-fueled by bathtub-warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico after wreaking havoc on several Caribbean islands, Jamaica and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It made landfall south of Houston as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing high winds, a storm surge and heavy rainfall and leaving millions without power in sweltering heat. Multiple deaths have been blamed on the storm. As it churns its way through the middle of the country, Beryl will raise the threat of flooding and tornadoes all the way to the Great Lakes.

Climate change may not have caused Hurricane Beryl, but it certainly made it more powerful and destructive. It was the earliest Atlantic hurricane to reach Category 5 in history and intensified rapidly three times, drawing strength from freakishly warm ocean water and favorable atmospheric conditions created by a growing La Nina phenomenon in the Pacific.

Billon-dollar disasters

Though Beryl had lost some steam by Monday, it almost certainly had enough power to wreak $1 billion in damage on Texas. That will make the hurricane the latest in a string of billion-dollar disasters hitting the Lone Star State so far this year. Most haven’t been nearly as headline-grabbing as Beryl. They’ve mainly been juiced-up thunderstorms bringing hail, tornadoes and high winds, including the “derecho” that blew out skyscraper windows in downtown Houston in May.

That list does not include the February-March wildfires that were the worst in the state’s history. They caused less than $1 billion in damage but destroyed many cattle ranches, farms and rural homes. And those fires followed a 2023 drought that actually did hit the billion-dollar mark in losses across Texas and several neighboring states.

In fact, Texas tops every other state in damages because of billion-dollar weather disasters since 1980, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Through early June, it had suffered more than $417 billion in losses because of such events since NOAA records begin, topping Florida’s $398 billion, Louisiana’s $311 billion and California’s $154 billion.

Given its size and location, Texas would be unusually prone to such catastrophes even if global warming wasn’t a thing. But climate change makes each event more likely to go …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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