No time to waste on climate change

Extreme weather events like flash floods and hurricanes are linked to and worsened by climate change. So are the severe droughts and fires afflicting the West.

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Columnists

September 22, 2021 - 9:36 AM

Betty Salisbury helps to clear her neighbor's yard in the wake of Hurricane Ida on September 2, 2021 in Hammond, Louisiana. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images/TNS)

As a climate scientist in the deep South, I am often asked whether climate change is real. My usual response is to say, “Look out the window.”

As I type this in mid-September, 5.5 inches of rain have inundated our town, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in six hours. Recently, Hurricane Ida — the 13th named storm of this season — ripped through the region, leaving at least 84 dead and an estimated $95 billion in damages in its wake from New Orleans to New England.

Contrary to stereotype, most of the Southerners I meet are interested in learning more about climate change. I tell them, as I do my college students, that extreme weather events like flash floods and hurricanes are linked to and worsened by climate change. So are the severe droughts and fires afflicting the West, as well as other disasters around the globe.

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