September 1, 2011
The term "perfect storm" is overused now, but it is the perfect metaphor for the violent relationship between people and the environment today. We are experiencing a convergence of factors that are putting us at great risk. For example:
o Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe.
o The big public works projects we built to protect us from natural disasters over the past century may no longer be affordable or the best option.
o The idea that we can bulldozer natural systems into submission and live wherever we wish has put millions of Americans in harms way.
o Weather-related disasters are becoming a clear and present danger to security at home and abroad.
o Our national leaders generally seem oblivious to this mounting danger, or in denial that it is real, allowing politics and flat-earth ideology to prevail over common sense.
o Even if our politicians were willing to unify around a national response to extreme weather, budget problems have greatly diminished governments' capacity to act.
In this three-part post, I'll weave together data from a variety of sources and experts to explore whether we are ready to cope with nature's new norm.
Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, one of the 97 percent of climate scientists who conclude that climate change is real, sees the drought differently. "It's a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we're seeing," she says.