Get educated on the links between severe weather and climate change, and the intersections of race, class, and natural disasters!
The increase in frequency and intensity of natural disasters impacting the USA and world right now—from the extreme wildfires in the US West, to the floods in South Asia that have killed over 1,000 and displaced 41 million people, to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—is a resounding clarion call for action to stabilize the climate and deepen our solidarity with marginalized, impacted communities.
While all of these disasters call our attention and call us to act, this roundup of news reports and editorials is particularly focused on how Hurricanes Harvey and Irma link to climate change and environmental justice.
Links Between Climate Change & Mega-Hurricanes
- “What We Know about the Climate Change–Hurricane Connection” by Michael E. Mann, Thomas C. Peterson, and Susan Joy Hassol, Scientific American, September 8, 2017
- “Hurricane Harvey Shows What Climate Disruption-Amplified Flooding Can Do” by Dahr Jamail, Truthout, August 29, 2017
“Sea-surface temperatures near Texas were between 2.7° and 7.2°F above average, making them some of the warmest ocean temperatures on Earth. This caused Harvey to ramp up from a tropical depression to a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane in merely two days’ time.”
- “Houston Is Experiencing Its Third ‘500-Year’ Flood in 3 Years. How Is that Possible?” by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, August 29, 2017
- “Will Irma Finally Change the Way We Talk About Climate?” by David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, September 9, 2017
Links Between Environmental Justice & Mega-Hurricanes
Racism, Classism, & Environmental Racism
- “Invisible Houston: Full Interview with Dr. Robert Bullard, Father of Environmental Justice Movement,” Democracy Now!, September 7, 2017
- “Disaster Might Not Discriminate, But Recovery Does,” Southern Poverty Law Center, September 2, 2017
- “Race and Class Are the Biggest Issues Around Hurricane Harvey and We Need to Start Talking About Them” by Charles D. Ellison, The Root, August 29, 2017
- “Recovering from Harvey When ‘You Already Live a Disaster Every Day of Your Life’” by Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, September 5, 2017
- “Florida Sheriff Criticized for Threatening Arrests of Evacuees in Shelters During Hurricane Irma” by Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2017
Prisoners Trapped in the Storms
- “Trapped in Irma’s Path: Thousands of Inmates are Left in Irma Evacuation Zone,” Vice News, September 9, 2017
- “’No Toilet, No Ventilation’: Prisoners Describe Horrific Conditions in Harvey’s Flood Zone” by Candice Bernd, Truthout, September 8, 2017
- “Weathering a Hurricanne in Prison” by Daniel A. Gross, New Yorker, September 8, 2017
- “Harvey’s Victims: Prisoners Drink Toilet Water in a Fight to Survive Under Lockdown,” LeftVoice, September 5, 2017
Toxic Industrial Pollution
- “More Than 40 Sites Released Hazardous Pollutants Because of Hurricane Harvey” by Troy Griggs, Andrew W. Lehren, Nadja Popovich, Anjali Singhvi, and Hiroko Tabuchi, Washington Post, September 8, 2017
- “Petro Metro: A Toxic Tour of Houston from Refineries to Superfund Sites in Wake of Harvey,” Democracy Now!, September 5, 2017
- “First responders Sue Harvey-Flooded Plant After Chemical Fire” by Emma Platoff, Texas Tribune, September 7, 2017
- “High Levels of Carcinogen [Benzene] Found in Houston Area After Harvey” by Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, September 6, 2017
“Since Aug. 23, 31 facilities in 10 counties have reported an estimated 4.5 million pounds of excess emissions to the commission, an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund and Environment Texas shows”
For those who are compelled to act, the UUA and UUSC are jointly managing Harvey and Irma Relief Funds, and the UU College of Social Justice is working with local partners to place volunteers for relief aid—links to these things can be found here.