"Where 2017's Hurricanes Fit in the Long History of American Climate Confusion"

September 22, 2017
Sam White

Professor Sam White recently published the above-titled article on Time.com, as well as the History News Network's web site (under the title of "Was It Bad Luck or Climate Change?"). The article begins:

Last month, Hurricane Harvey dumped more rain on the Texas coast in a week than most states see all year. As I write, Florida is engulfed in a hurricane expected to cause tens of billions more in damage. We know rising sea levels mean higher storm surges. We know hotter air means potentially larger hurricanes with more rain and winds. What’s harder to say is whether we should blame these particular storms—or any other weather event—on global warming. This issue first came to the attention of most Americans in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when the fate of New Orleans was in doubt. In a way, however, the question of bad luck versus climate change has been with us at least since the first Europeans arrived in America. And as it turns out, we’ve often gotten the answer wrong.
 
Climatically speaking, America has always been a land of variability and extremes. Early explorers and colonists arrived expecting climates in America to resemble those at the same latitudes in Europe, so that orange trees would grow in Maine and sugar and spices in Virginia. Instead they encountered America’s stronger continental seasons, with storms, frosts and heat waves of a kind rarely felt in Western Europe.
 
Read the rest of the article here.