Michael devastates Florida Panhandle, climate change an unavoidable subject

By , October 10, 2018

The scene in Panama City, Florida. The scene in Panama City, Florida.

Perhaps the most appropriate shorthand analysis of Hurricane Michael, which howled ashore in the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, came in a headline at Grist, which called the 155-mile-per-hour superstorm “an unnatural disaster.” The New York Times drew an even more direct line between climate change and increasingly powerful hurricanes (although the research that might confirm that link scientifically has yet to be done for Michael) in its explainer, “The Hurricanes, and Climate-Change Questions, Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked.

Penn State climate scientist Michael E. Mann made sure (via ALL CAPS) that his Twitter followers could not miss the link between climate change and stronger hurricanes.

But as the storm made landfall near Mexico Beach, it was video that made the impact of Michael’s wind and storm surge clear. The world will find out the degree to which Hurricane Michael was, provably, a climate change-fueled catastrophe in coming weeks and months. But proof that it was a catastrophe of extreme power was available Wednesday in real time, to anyone with a television or internet connection.

As the coronavirus crisis shows, we need science now more than ever.

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