Extreme Weather & Climate Change
For years, scientists have warned us that climate change will lead to bigger, more intense, and more frequent storms. But it turns out they're not the only ones who knew.
© Mannie Garcia / Greenpeace
Whether it’s sea level rise making coastal cities more prone to flooding during storm surges, warmer ocean temperatures leading to stronger winds and rains, or climate-exacerbated drought, the scientific connections between climmate change and extreme weather events are clear.
And the consequences for communities on the frontlines are massive.
Storms like Hurricanes Katrina, Andrew, Sandy, Ike, Harvey, Irma, and others have claimed hundreds of lives in the United States alone. They’ve displaced hundreds of thousands of people — some who still can’t return home decades later — and destroyed livelihoods and businesses. The combined financial cost of these disasters is well into the billions. And while science cannot tell us that climate change caused these storms, it does tell us without a doubt that it made them more intense and more damaging.
But it turns out it’s not just climate scientists who have known this was coming. The fossil fuel industry did, too — decades ago.
Exxon researchers warned management in 1982 that impacts from climate change could be catastrophic. But instead of acting to protect the public, Exxon and other fossil fuel companies waged a decades-long campaign to sow doubt about climate science, block policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect their own profits.
Sitting with the knowledge that climate change is real and its impacts serious, Exxon and others continued to exploit fossil fuels, worsening the problem and blocking the path to renewable energy.
Climate denial is not a victimless crime. When climate-fueled extreme weather events strike, it’s those who deny science and block climate action that must answer to the victims.