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Torrential flooding in oil city Houston

Posted August. 30, 2017 08:31,   

Updated August. 30, 2017 08:51

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Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. and state capital of Texas, is famous for being home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, but is also an oil city where 30 leading oil companies are based. The Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) is being produced and traded in the city as hub. The petrochemical and aerospace industries enable the city of Houston to survive and thrive. Oil companies have claimed that global warming due to greenhouse gas is a lie. It is no secret that as soon as President George W. Bush, who served as Texas governor, was inaugurated, the U.S. exited from the Kyoto Protocol due to massive lobbying efforts by Houston-based oil companies.

Houston is struggling due to disastrous torrential rain that was brought by Hurricane Harvey that hit the state of Texas. Torrential rain amounting to 600 millimeters a day has transformed the city into a giant lake, leaving 10 people killed and 450,000 others displaced from homes, as damage continues to mount over time. Analysts say that economic costs could reach 100 billion U.S. dollars, the largest ever in scale in the world to surpass damage from Hurricane Catarina in 2005.

Harvey is a Category 4 hurricane, which is weaker than Category 3 hurricane Catarina. It is the first time in 13 years that a Category 4 hurricane hit the U.S. mainland since Hurricane Charlie in 2004. About 93 percent of surplus heat energy due to global warming is confined in the oceans. Waters with elevated temperatures generate a massive volume of vapor. Scientists call such an immense volume of vapor a "flying river." A hurricane that carries humidity while passing through such waters naturally becomes very powerful. Of course, hurricanes did exist even before global warming. However, global warming escalates the power of hurricanes.

In the past, U.S. President Donald Trump had mockingly said that President Obama’s argument that "the biggest challenge humanity is facing is global warming" is one of the stupidest things and the most naïve thing he has ever heard. He also instructed the U.S. to exit the Paris Agreement that President Obama had signed. Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, appointed by President Trump, said that carbon dioxide is not the main culprit of global warming, which alarmed scientists. Would President Trump still believe that there is no such a thing as global warming even after the unprecedented massive natural disaster that dealt a devastating blow to Houston, the oil city and home turf of the Republican Party.



shchung@donga.com