We are Living with the Reality of Climate Change

We are Living with the Reality of Climate Change

Fr. Seán McDonagh

“This for us is something we had hoped would not have happened” These words were spoken by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, the Prefect of the newly—formed dicastery for Integral Human Development when he heard that President Donald Trump was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. [1]

I am sure many people in the Caribbean and in the United Stated had hoped that the damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma would not be so great. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Harvey, a category 4 storm, crashed into Texas on August 25th, 2017. The storm made landfall on three separate occasions during the six days of its existence. It is probably the most expensive storm ever to hit the United States. Economists estimate that the damage will be around $180 billion, with around $125 billion coming from federal relief. More than 13 people died in the storm.

Meteorologists considered hurricane Harvey as a-once-in-25,000-year event. The ecologist, Bill McKribben pointed that this is “12 times past the birth of Christ.” According to him, in some isolated places it was a -once-in-500,000 years storm. [2]
There were also other firsts. Hurricane Harvey has set a record for rainfall in the continental United States, mainly because the storm lasted so long. Damage was caused, not by high winds, but by extensive flooding in some many parts of the state.. The National Weather Service (NWS) recorded 51.88 inches of rain in Cader Bayou in Texas. The last highest rainfall record in the continental Unites States happened in Texas when cyclone Amelia hit the state in 1950.

In the second week of September 2017 hurricane Irma it tore through the Caribbean leaving misery, destruction and 38 deaths. The eye of the storm passed over the island of Barbuda destroying almost every building. In the British territory of Anguilla, there was widespread damage to property. Ninety percent of government buildings and businesses were severely damaged.. A two year-old child was drowned when the storm ripped the roof of the family’s home..

Like hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma has its own deadly records. According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency it is considered to be the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic . In some places winds speeds reached an incredible 185 miles per hour Official figures confirmed that four people died in the British Virgin Islands and the storm caused huge damage to property. Some felt that Britain had not done enough to help the people either before or after the storm hit the islands. The chairman of the all-party Foreign Affairs and the Development committees, Tom Tugendhat and Stephen Twigg, demanded that ministers explain their response to Irma and warned that people in Britain’s overseas territories in the Caribbean remained at grave risk.[3] In response to these criticisms, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson belated visited the British territories in the Caribbean on September 12th 2017.

Irma also did huge damage in Cuba and left 10 people dead. It was the first category five storm to hit Cuba in a hundred years. Many towns were flooded and people were left without power. Irma passed to the north of Puerto Rico, where it flattened many buildings and destroyed the power supply, except in hospitals which relied on their generators. The Dutch government confirmed that 70 percent of the houses on St. Maarten were destroyed or badly damaged. This means that almost 40,000 people are now depending on government shelters for housing.

On Sunday September 10th 2017, Irma hit the western coast of Florida. At least 13 counties had ordered voluntary or mandatory evacuations. This means that almost 5 million people moved from areas within the state. Irma left Florida in a shambles. Palms trees and other canopy trees, took the full force of the storm. Hurricane Irma killed at least 36 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Naturally, many people are asking will these two storms, encourage President Donald Trump to change his mind on climate change. Will he now begin to listen to scientists and meteorologists, who are pointing to the links between hurricanes and climate change? Unfortunately, President Trump is still in denial about climate change and its effect even in the United States.

Flying back to Rome from his visit to Colombia on September 11th 2017, Pope Francis said, “those who deny climate change need to go to scientists and ask them,”[4] He said the scientific community has been “clear and precise” in linking human activities to the ongoing climate crisis…..,, Climate change is a “serious matter over which we cannot make jokes.” [5]


[1] Al least a political climate change, The Sunday Examiner, Hong Kong, 11 June, 2017,   page 4

[2] Bill McKribben, “Stop talking right now about the threat of climate change. It’s here; it’s happening” The Guardian, September 11th 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/11/threat-climate-change-hurricane-harvey-irma-droughts

[3] Jamie Doward and Toby Helm, “Britain not doing enough to help its Caribbean territories, The Observer, September 10, 2017, page 3

[4] Chris D’Angelo, “Pope Francis On Climate Change Denial: ‘Man Is Stupid” Green, September 12th 2017,   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-fr ancis-climate-change-denial-stupid_us_59b6ed8ae4b09be416574f72

[5] ibid

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One Comment

  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    So, Benedict goes after the 1% in the 7 new social sins and Pope Francis follows this fist shaking with Laudato si’ which essentially crushes the need for their economic superiority. If you would all read it Laudato si’, you would know this.

    How have we been living Laudato si’ lately? It is certainly not in support of cooperative and collective based establishments like the Church used to be in support of on a community level. Now everyone is a member in a Church of Fools and Miscreants led by 1% of the population? What is our response to Laudato si’. Better yet, what is our response to this?

    The “Our Children’s Trust” lawsuit is starting in February of 2018 and a petition I’m releasing to the Catholic Church openly asks if you are going to support the efforts of this lawsuit with perhaps taking part in the solutions within your own generation. It will be sent out to you on September 23rd through the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s “Animator Program” starting at bishop’s in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and ending at my bishop brothers to the north in Ireland.

    Scotland is mobilising and so is England who is admittedly ready to stop production of fossil fuel based vehicles joining the likes of China and France – others will follow suit or convert their diesels to bio-fuel. That works in a green world too especially with Canada starting CBD – hemp oil exports. This would be for commercial, topical, and medicinal use. I’d like to start a cooperative locally and export to Ireland from Cape Breton. Ageing priests with arthritis, chronic pain and inflammation, Diabetes, anxiety disorders from PTSD (addiction to cigarettes or alcohol/drugs included), would benefit from medicinal CBD and it appears your government is starting to take sides on these issues, thankfully. CBD is non-psychoactive and carries very few side effects except tiredness because you are getting energy to do more.

    Your leaders will be asked to show support by greening the Church on September 23, as this children’s group is asking. “Our Children’s Trust” can wait for your effort but sadly, some of their members were born with conditions and within conditions that have had serious impacts on their health, many with respiratory disease which can be treated but not in this current environment.

    We talk about the effects of climate change on our spiritual health yet we forget about companies’ impacts on emissions and how we have alternatives to all this now. Have we somehow forgotten that the lives of future generations are at stake? Is this what we are like when we are mimetic in a bad way? Cooperative living will fix all that. Support it when you hear about it because it is coming to your local area – like a thief in the night.

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