Our nation is facing both physical and emotional devastation as high category hurricanes ravage our coastlines. Hurricane Harvey and Irma, as well as Jose and Katia, have resulted in catastrophe in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean islands. Thousands of people are experiencing incredible loss due to these natural disasters. Homes, families and friends have been mercilessly stripped away, leaving those affected to adjust to an entirely new reality.
At a college located squarely in the Midwest, it can be easy to distance ourselves from these kinds of catastrophes. However, four hurricanes within a span of a few days can only be perceived as a wake-up call.
Hurricane Harvey is reported to have caused financial damage than any other hurricane in United States history. Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and resulted in the largest recorded evacuation in the Bahamas. Incredible damage is still occurring, and these hurricanes are likely a warning of what is to come if we continue refusing to take action against climate change.
Under our current presidential administration, taking a stand against climate change may seem like a challenge. Considering that President Trump pulled the United States from the Paris Agreement, we are living in an age of denial when it comes to defending our environment. Nevertheless, the scientific evidence that climate change is a real issue remains.
According to the most recent National Climate Assessment published in 2014, hurricanes have increased in strength and frequency since the 1980s—and now, four years later, we are experiencing devastation rarely seen before. There is mounting evidence that catastrophic hurricane seasons like these could become the new norm.
It is now more than ever that we need to raise our voices against the threat of climate change. As college students preparing to enter the “real world,” we are a new collective voice for our country, and, united, we can make a change. Together, we can make our opinions heard and potentially lessen the damage of hurricanes and numerous other natural disasters such as earthquakes, melting glaciers and more.
For decades, scientific research has supported that climate change exists. Regardless of what people choose to believe is true, our climate is being impacted negatively every day because of the choices we have made. We must learn to be uncomfortable enough with this reality that we are willing to change it.
We must also extend our love, compassion and prayers to those suffering due to irreparable damage caused by the storms. AU is offering multiple ways to serve victims of the recent hurricanes—stop by the SGA office to make a donation to help those in need, or consider signing up for the upcoming Tri-S trip to Houston to support rebuilding efforts.
Our prayers are with those affected by the storm, and we hope that by standing together, recovery is possible.