WASHINGTON POST - CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSING FIRES AND FLOODS WILL DRIVE INCREASING NUMBERS FROM HOMES

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18 august 2016


‘A changing climate is and will continue to put people out of their homes’


By Chris Mooney, Washington Post August 18

In San Bernardino County, Calif., 82,000 people were ordered to leave their homes Wednesday as an explosive wildfire “hit with an intensity that we hadn’t seen before,” as one fire official said, and surged across 30,000 acres.

It followed dramatic flooding in Louisiana that the Red Cross termed our “worst natural disaster” in this country since Hurricane Sandy four years ago. Thirteen have been killed and 40,000 homes damaged — and those numbers could get worse.

The same week as the Louisiana and California disasters, the Alaskan village of Shishmaref voted to permanently relocate as the barrier island on which it rests is threatened by rising seas.

It all seems more and more of a pattern — from worse than 1 in 1,000 year floods in South Carolina to 2015 floods in Texas and Oklahoma that scientists later said had been enhanced by global warming.

And it’s certainly not just here in the United States: In a dramatic wildfire evacuation, more than 80,000 people fled Fort McMurray, Canada, in April, terrorized by an early-season northern wildfire that grew to more than 1 million acres in size.

So is this what climate change looks like — more and more people displaced?

“You’d find no scientist would disagree with the fact that a changing climate is and will continue to put people out of their homes,” said Greg Holland, a hurricane and climate expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Holland said that far and away the most obvious reason for this is rising seas swallowing coastal zones, as in the case of Shishmaref. “As far as sea level rise is concerned, there’s zero doubt about it,” he said.

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