Recent natural disasters highlight need for more discussion about climate change

Weather

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — With recent weather events causing havoc across parts of the United States, local experts are hoping it will cause people to talk about climate change and the impacts it will have on our country.

On Thursday, parts of Richmond were hit with flash flooding the same time Hurricane Nicholas dumped rain throughout the South and Gulf Coast.

Dr. Michael Allen, who is an associate professor of geography at Old Dominion University, says events like this will become more especially in Hampton Roads, which is one of the most vulnerable areas in the U.S.

“We’re sinking,” he said. “We’re also experiencing a rapid area of sea level rise off our coast. Since the 1930s, we’ve experienced a loss of 15 inches. The flooding we see on Hampton Boulevard or Downtown, without, flooding might not be as impactful.”

Allen says the science has shown for decades that the planet is warming and there will be implications on a large scale.

He says it’s shown that climate change is human-driven and has a number of causes with the roles of transportation, food systems, and the global economic trade.

While hurricanes get the “wow” factor of climate change and flooding will continue to be a major issue in Hampton Roads, Allen says heatwaves will also cause significant issues.

“We can think about heatwaves, which kill more people on average than any other natural disasters more than flooding, huricanes and tornades combined in most cases,” he said.

While we’ve seen more changes in Virginia to move toward some type of renewable energy resources, Allen says there have been delays for years to try to prepare despite the significant costs of natural disaster damage.

“Last year, a major road in Southwest Louisiana was destroyed by a hurricane. the state and the federal government repaired it for $3 million. With Hurricane Ida last month, the road was washed away,” he said. “Within two years, we’ve spent $6 million. The cost of inaction is much more significant than the cost of actions.”

While many might not think they can do anything to help slow climate change, Allen says, including making it a dinning room table issue and explaining how it can impact infrastructure, food security, job security, and national security.

“We can talk about it. We can talk about it with our elected officials-both local and federal and small changes can make a big impact. What we eat, how we get to work and get to school,” he said.

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