Are All These Natural Disasters Normal? | The New York Times

Are All These Natural Disasters Normal? | The New York Times

Are All These Natural Disasters Normal? | The New York Times 1

Been a very active couple of months– there’s been probably four major hurricanes in that time. There’s been– –very, very severe wildfire season in the West. Literally driving through a fire at the moment. Then on top of it, we’ve had a couple of very strong earthquakes in Mexico. Some of this is normal. But some of it may also be a harbinger of things to come. Science can explain all of these things. Earthquakes– the frequency of earthquakes is remarkably consistent year to year. A 7.0, roughly, earthquake and then– and also an earthquake within two weeks of each other is not unusual at all. The fact that they both happened in Mexico is a little unusual. But lots of quakes happen in Mexico. Thing about earthquakes is that most of the big earthquakes, actually, in the world happen in places where there’s not a lot of people. So they don’t really get noticed. Earthquakes aside, it’s tricky. Some of what’s been happening is related to climate change. Some of it isn’t. So wildfires are an interesting question because there’s some element of normality and nature involved.

But there’s a lot of human influence here. It’s been very dry, climate change-related. And also, there’s certain insect infestations that are now worse because of climate change that can kill trees. And that’s fuel for fires. Couple that with human influences. More and more people are living in areas that are close to forest. The human desire to live close to nature sort of plays into the whole “what’s going on here” feeling, whereas 20 years ago, a wildfire might have happened somewhere in the Rockies and nobody lived there. So nobody would really care. Now the same wildfire might happen in the same location. And there’s vacation homes there. And so people take notice. Terms of hurricanes, generally speaking, the months of August, September, and October are the busy, active part of the season.

Some years, you don’t get many hurricanes at all. It’s a naturally variable situation. It is probably a little unusual that several of them have been really monster hurricanes, and also have made landfall. You want a big database of things to study. And with hurricanes, with, like, 12 or 15 storms every year, that’s not a huge number that you’re working with. But some scientists say the intense season we’ve had is more likely to repeat itself in years ahead. Scientists are pretty confident that climate change will make hurricanes worse for two reasons. One is warmer air holds more moisture. The other impact is that sea levels are rising. Some point, particularly if you’re personally affected by these things– the scientific explanation is not enough. Whether you blame nature or some higher being, to be in awe and a little scared or a lot scared at what can happen to you in these events is a good thing.

It probably means you prepare for them better. .

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