Op Ed: Let Hurricane Harvey Sink In, It’s As Real As Climate Change

Houston, Texas (TFC)– As images and coverage relay from Houston, Americans are reminded of their country’s vulnerabilities. Hurricane Harvey is happening, its power and implications are impossible to ignore. It’s a testament to the forces guiding nature, and the fragile nature of civilization.

Flooded streets and endless lines outside shelters–swelling by the hour–will be a norm in Houston for a time. According to recent reports, 45 people have been claimed by the rising flood waters. Democracy Now reported the flood waters are expected to peak at over 50ft. Hundreds are already displaced, whole communities essentially under water. And, if that wasn’t enough, the storm now appears to be headed toward battered and bloodied Louisiana.

The human, emotional, and economic toll of such events only punctuate with each passing year. Phenomena which were once few and far between now occur almost yearly. Government agencies struggle to save and relocate people from all consuming storms.

In a way, however, the initial trauma and tragedy don’t compare to the long-term losses. Following natural disasters, cities spend months or even years simply putting the pieces back together. Parts of Louisiana never recovered from Hurricane Katrina under the Bush Administration or recent storms.  They’re events now bringing entire states to heel.

As the days and weeks come then pass, we’ll be forced to bear witness to the hell wrought by Harvey. We’ll focus on it so much that many will overlook the similarly intense weather events worldwide. While people fight for their lives in Texas, hundreds in Bangladesh are already dead from massive floods. According to The Independent, millions have been displaced in floods which authorities say are much worse this year. Rainy seasons are normal, but swaths of India shouldn’t be getting swallowed by the sea.

Here’s the difference though: One country is much poorer and has less infrastructure than the other. A similar pattern will likely play out for Hurricane Harvey as it whips the American mainland. To an extent, the poor and particularly minority communities will bear the brunt. Some will get left behind, and even after the storm leaves, their neighborhoods will showcase the scars. Many lines will be drawn in the sand, and one of the clearest will be what social strata you’re from.

Climate change poses such a massive threat to civilization largely due to the amount of cooperation needed to survive. A global civilization divided by the trivial is incapable of coming out of the coming decades in tact.

Events like Hurricane Harvey, massive forest fires in California, hotter summers and colder winters–domestic and foreign– are but omens of a turbulent future. If staggering body counts from Indian flooding or African mudslides are too distant for you, then here’s a suggestion.

Take a long, hard look at the footage, pictures, testimony and coverage from Houston. Look into the faces of the displaced and frightened. Observe how powerful Earth can be, and how small and unprepared our apparently modern country is to face it. After you’ve processed it, look to the future and see the horsemen stampeding over the horizon towards your homelands.

Can you continue to turn a blind eye? Make a mockery of the phenomena simply because “climate change” was mentioned? What about sitting by and accepting there’s no way to adapt to the coming days, weeks, months and years? Will you allow politicians from whatever party dismantle the few defenses to these disasters we have? Or will you heed the signs, and help build a future where if a Hurricane Harvey happens, governments will be prepared, and people won’t get left behind?

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