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Are Hurricanes Increasing Because of Climate Change?

Are hurricanes signs that man-made climate change is a fearsome reality?

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Are Hurricanes Increasing Because of Climate Change?

Are hurricanes signs that man-made climate change is a fearsome reality?

Wild storms have been dominating the news lately with Hurricane Harvey ferociously dumping 50 inches of water on Texas and Hurricane Irma devastating tropical islands and Florida with Hurricane Jose not far behind. The media has been quick to lay the blame for these disasters squarely on our shoulders. They claim man-made climate change is responsible for the severity of these storms and Harvey and Irma are just a harbinger of what’s coming.

A Groaning World

But before we look at the question of climate change, let’s look at what causes a hurricane. From a biblical perspective, the only reason we have hurricanes is because we live in a cursed and groaning world (Romans 8:22). God’s original “very good” creation didn’t have natural disasters, or any death or suffering. But sin changed all that and these hurricanes are just another example of nature groaning as it waits for Christ’s return.

The Science Behind the Storm

Hurricanes are the most violent storms on earth. Just to give you an idea about the violence these storms can reach, take a look at Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. She had 185 mph sustained winds and these winds covered an area of 700,000 square miles (that’s bigger than the entire state of Florida)—now that’s an incredibly powerful storm.

Hurricanes, or typhoons or cyclones as they are also known (the name depends on where they form), typically form near the equator because they feed off warm, moist air. This air rises forming an area of low pressure beneath it. High pressure air rushes in, warms up and rises, and they cycle repeats again. As the air cools, it forms clouds which slowly begin spinning.   

Basically, these storms are creating mechanical energy out of heat energy. Deadly winds, storm surges, and flash flooding due to heavy rains make hurricanes dangerous as they make landfall.

Is Climate Change Making Storms Worse?

The media says yes, definitely. But consider this:

  1. Unusual natural disasters have happened all throughout history.
  2. It’s difficult to compare current disasters to past ones due to differences in measurements, an explosion in the population, and urban growth dramatically changing the landscape. All of these things effect how severe we rate a disaster to be which makes it hard to compare to past disasters, even in the same area.
  3. Floods aren’t just due to weather—they are partly (even largely) due to the infrastructure we build which directs water in certain ways and often prevents it from seeping into the ground and being absorbed by the environment as it normally would be.
  4. Levels of rainfall are often the result of the way a system moves. If it “stalls” over a certain area, the rainfall is more concentrated. If it keeps moving, the rain is spread out over a greater area.
  5. It’s been twelve years since a major hurricane in the US, there were fourteen Category 4 hurricanes before 1970 (since we started measuring them) but only four since then so it’s difficult to say hurricanes are increasing in frequency and intensity.
  6. Sedimentary evidence in Florida suggests this coast was struck by devastating hurricanes 1,000 years ago that have been declining in frequency since.

The bottom line: weather isn’t the same thing as climate. These are weather events and weather, including extreme weather, happens. Climate looks at these weather patterns and atmospheric conditions over long periods of time and tries to make predictions. But it’s a complicated science and we don’t have many years of precise data to help predict future climate trends.

So are these hurricanes signs that man-made climate change is a fearsome reality? No. These hurricanes show that weather happens and will continue to happen.

Hurricane Activity

Want to learn more about hurricanes? You can do a project from home, using your computer and in Internet connection, to analyze the paths of past hurricanes to see if there are any patterns. Learn more at this website.

 

 

 

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Avery Foley

Avery Foley is a blog writer for Camp Infinity. She holds a bachelors of science in biblical studies and a masters of arts in theological studies. She’s originally from Canada but lives with her husband and young son in Kentucky where she works as a writer for a creation apologetics organization.

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