The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meets today, and among the agenda items is an update on the county’s Energy and Climate Action Plan. The timing couldn’t be better.
But don’t get your hopes up about any potential change in county policy. The point of today’s board consideration focuses on whether the county will meet emissions-reduction goals established in 2015.
A tall order, considering the target for meeting such goals is a little more than two years away.
In fact, it’s not difficult to see why policy makers across the globe should be focusing more attention on a changing climate, and now would be a good time to do that — given the fact that four major hurricanes made landfall in the past few weeks, something you don’t often see.
We’re guessing that many climate-change skeptics who live in Florida may have experienced an epiphany. Hurricane Irma saw to that.
Floridans stampeded highways in one of history’s largest mass, weather-related evacuations as Irma lashed the southern and western areas of the state.
Some of those skeptics may recall that radio talker Rush Limbaugh spent a good deal of air time last week telling listeners that climate change was just fake news, and that the category 5 hurricane bearing down on them was just part of the great liberal, deep-state conspiracy. Ah, but even the harshest of critics can learn, which Limbaugh apparently did, because he evacuated his Palm Beach estate, much to the delight of pragmatists everywhere.
Unfortunately, Limbaugh is not the only loose cannon in that retirement mecca. A fellow Floridian took to social media to encourage fellow gun owners to fire their weapons into the approaching hurricane. In his words: “Let’s show Irma that we shoot first.” Police asked the man and his 50,000 or so social-media followers not to do that. Some people just never learn.
We’re having a bit of fun at the expense of a few free-thinkers in Florida, but the truth is that the formation of killer storms so quickly, and with such destructive results, is a powerful hint that we need to talk about a changing climate.
First there was Hurricane Harvey, which ramped up in the Gulf of Mexico, slammed the Texas coast, then dumped 500-year flood waters onto Houston. The scenes from there were truly heart-breaking.
Irma was next, and she turns out to have been one of Florida’s worst — if not the worst — storms in history. Katia and Jose did their dreadful things in Mexico and the Caribbean.
So many powerful storms compressed into a small time frame had happened only three times before, at least in recorded history. Florida can be ground-zero in such events, because the state stands out like a sore thumb, and 2004 was especially scary. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne raked the state in the space of just a few weeks. Charley came ashore on Florida’s west coast as a category 4.
Tropical cyclones are complicated, which is why so many people refuse to attribute the recent spate of super-violent storms to global warming/climate change. We can’t argue the complicated part, but we should at least consider the possibility that we, humans, are part of the problem, and if so, what can we reasonably do to mitigate the consequences of our actions.
This isn’t really a political issue. Climate change and resulting dramatic weather events are not fake news. Just ask Rush Limbaugh, who despite his on-air bluster, decided running from Irma was the wise choice.