Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

While the people in Texas and Louisiana suffer the final days of rain and begin recovery, over 1,200 people have been killed by massive floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The planet is drowning in denial. Climate change is real, and needs to be addressed.

"While the people in Texas and Louisiana suffer the final days of rain and begin recovery, over 1,200 people have been killed by massive floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The planet is drowning in denial. Climate change is real, and needs to be addressed." (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

Hell Hath No Fury Like Mother Earth Scorned

Amy GoodmanDenis Moynihan

Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Harvey unleashed the fury of a warming planet on the Gulf Coast of Texas this week, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced and homeless, thousands languishing in crowded shelters, and killing at least 28 people. It is projected to be the costliest disaster in the nation’s history, with the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the continental U.S., inundating a number of cities, including Houston, the fourth-largest and most diverse city in the United States.

Houston, the Petro Metro, is home to one-quarter of the petroleum refining capacity in the United States. Include the entire Gulf Coast, and the percentage increases to half. In the midst of this massive storm, sprawling petrochemical facilities were forced to shut down abruptly, ejecting millions of pounds of toxins into the air, impacting most heavily the poorer communities of color near where these plants have historically been built.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump, peddler of the lie that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy, made a predictably superficial visit to Texas. “What a crowd, what a turnout,” Trump boasted as he landed in Corpus Christi. He made no mention of the victims.

Climate denial in the face of Harvey’s devastation is incomprehensible, ignorant and immoral.

Given that both Trump and Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott are climate change deniers, it is important to understand the science. “It’s not debatable now. These are all well-established facts,” Dr. James Hansen explained on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. He is the former top climate scientist at NASA and current director at Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “With the beginning of changes in atmospheric composition, caused mainly by burning fossil fuels, the planet is getting warmer, and sea level has begun to go up, because the ocean is getting warmer and because ice is melting.” He continued: “The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is increasing because the atmosphere is getting warmer, and therefore the amount of water being dumped during these storms is larger because of human-made global warming. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms all get their energy from the latent energy of water vapor. There are substantial human-made effects on these storms.” Larger storm surges. More rain. Stronger storms.

Intensified by climate change, this storm has slammed into the epicenter of the U.S. petroleum industry.

The flooding is bad enough. Then you have the toxins released. Bryan Parras, as organizer for the “Beyond Dirty Fuels” campaign with the Sierra Club in Houston and co-founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), works in the poor and working-class communities of color in Houston, where people live up against the fences of large, toxin-spewing petrochemical plants. “All of the facilities, all of the refineries went into voluntary shutdown mode. When that happens, they often have to go through the process of burning off these excess chemicals. But it is a dirty burn. So you can see actually the black smoke … unfortunately, that adds thousands of pounds of cancer-causing chemicals to the air,” he told “Democracy Now!.”

Writer and activist Naomi Klein has long made the connection between disasters and economic opportunism. A key ingredient, she says, is a compliant media. “You turn on any coverage, and you hear that word over and over again, but what you don’t hear, or you hear very, very rarely, is an explanation for why the word ‘unprecedented,’ ‘record-breaking’ — why these words have become meteorological cliches,” she said on “Democracy Now!.” “We hear them all the time, because we’re breaking heat records year after year. We’re seeing record-breaking wildfires, record-breaking droughts, record-breaking storms, because the baseline is higher.”

Klein continued: “Nobody is saying that climate change caused this storm. What we’re talking about are what are the superchargers of this storm, the accelerants that took what would have been a disaster, in any situation, and turned it into this human catastrophe.”

That is a central tenet of climate science: You can’t attribute any given weather event to climate change, but human-induced climate change is making extreme weather events stronger and more frequent, more costly, more deadly. While the people in Texas and Louisiana suffer the final days of rain and begin recovery, over 1,200 people have been killed by massive floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The planet is drowning in denial. Climate change is real, and needs to be addressed.


© 2017 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide.

Denis Moynihan

Denis Moynihan

Denis Moynihan has worked with Democracy Now! since 2000. He is a bestselling author and a syndicated columnist with King Features. He lives in Colorado, where he founded community radio station KFFR 88.3 FM in the town of Winter Park.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Massive Demonstration of Support for Lopez Obrador in Mexico City

AMLO was elected in 2018 and heralded as the Bernie Sanders of Mexico

Common Dreams staff ·


Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo