(CNSNews.com) - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) believes that human beings could reduce the frequency of hurricanes and severe storms if only they would do more to counter climate change.
Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Schumer began by extending "our thoughts and hearts" to the people affected by Hurricane Michael.
"This year has seen huge a number of powerful storms and hurricanes buffet the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf," Schumer began:
Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and now Michael have all wrought severe damages. According to NOAA, 2017 was the most expensive year on record for disasters in the U.S. At some point, we have to acknowledge the intensity of these storms that is much greater than in past years and is a symptom of changing climate.
Climate change is real, it is being driven by human activity, it is happening right now. These are facts; they are not in dispute. Our scientists know it, our businesses know it, the world knows it, and the American people know it. But, too many senators on the other side of the aisle just put their head in the sand.
It costs us more, and more, and more. We're not going to leave these people high and dry, but if we would do more on climate change, we'd have fewer of these hurricanes and other types of storms. Everyone knows that, except a few. Why? Why won't they admit the truth? Maybe there are two words that explain it: oil industry.
Schumer pointed to a U.N. report released this week that says the world has just a little over a decade to "get a handle on carbon emissions."
According to that U.N. report, there is "alarming evidence" that humanity has reached "important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system.
"Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying. Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations."
Schumer said the Trump administration has done nothing but "move the issue backward."
"Amazing -- that we, the leading country, supposed to be the moral force, the economic, political, military leader, we are the ones that pull out of the Paris Climate Accords and the administration has been repealing environmental protection after protection," Schumer said.
"So while we are thinking about the people of Florida and Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina and everyone in Hurricane Michael's path, let's remember that we are running out of time to do something about climate change, and the kind of storms we are seeing now will only increase if this body continues to keep its head in the sand, ostrichlike, and ignore the scientific realities."
Among other things, Schumer opposes the EPA's rollback of the Clean Power Plan, which set strict carbon emissions limiits for power plants; and the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords.
As for the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes:
According to NOAA's National Hurricane Center, the 2017 North Atlantic hurricane season had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes. This was well above the 1981-2010 average of 12.1 named storms, 6.4 hurricanes, and 2.7 major hurricanes. The number of named storms ranked as the ninth most on record, the number of hurricanes ranked as the eighth most, and the number of major hurricanes ranked as the third most.
The 2017 hurricane season also was remarkable for ending a 12-year major hurricane drought in the continental United States.
(The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a major storm as Category 3 or higher, with winds above 111 miles an hour.)
In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas as Category 4 storm, breaking a record 4,323-day (142-month, 12-year) span without a major hurricane coming ashore.
Before Harvey, the last major hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States was Wilma, which struck Florida as a Category 3 in October 2005.
Between 2005 and 2017, only nine relatively minor hurricanes (Categories 1 or 2) had made direct landfall in the United States.