Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Tornados, Hurricanes and Global Warming, Oh My


I’m from New York City, home to over 8.2 million people, the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants and the best pizza ever. On Saturday, Sept. 8, during a 50-foot wide tornado with wind speeds of around 70 miles per hour, tourists visited neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

After making their way across the United States and causing four deaths in Oklahoma on Sept. 7, the storms caused damage to power lines, beaches, lifted roofs off houses, tore down walls and lifted cars off the streets, but no injuries were reported, according to New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelley.

Tornadoes most often occur in the Tornado Alley region of the Midwest with a few throughout the rest of the North America and the world.  But over the last three months, they have been touching down more frequently. According to the United State Geological Survey, there have been 34 earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of 5.1 to 7.8 and they are in more uncommon territory, like the Northeast. They are also becoming more deadly: last year 550 people were killed by tornados, making it the deadliest season in 75 years.

The years from 2001 to 2012 have been the hottest in recorded history and continues to rise, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The change in temperature and global climate is due to global warming. Hotter temperatures caused by the burning of fuels for cars, and other industries have created holes in the ozone layer. The ozone layer protects the earth from most of the sun’s dangerous waves, keeping the earth from getting too hot. The holes allow more heat into the atmosphere, causing the polar ice caps to melt. This throws off the natural weather systems, causing havoc, such as more intense rain and snow storms than ever before.

Last year alone, there was a tornado in Springfield, droughts and more intense snowstorms, like the one during Halloween weekend when thousands of people in the Amherst area lost power. There was damage to power lines, the water system and infrastructure.  Not to mention hurricane season: Hurricane Irene inflicted damage up and down the east coast, including flash flooding in Vermont where houses floated away.
In the past decade, some of the worst natural disasters in human history have occurred, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is considered by some to be one of the five worst hurricanes recorded in human history, killing an estimated 1,833 people, stranding thousands more and causing over $81 billion worth of property damage, according to the NAOO Tropical Cyclone Report of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing roughly 52 powerful aftershocks, killing 316,000 people, injuring 300,000 and leaving an estimated 1 million people homeless.

In 2011, a 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan, the most powerful to ever hit the nation and one of the five most powerful ever recorded. The hurricane triggered a tsunami which devastated the entire country and led to a Level 7 meltdown in three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. An estimated 15,867 people were killed, 6,109 were injured and over 2,909 went missing, according to the Japanese National Police Agency. It was one of the most expensive natural disasters in world history, costing an estimated $235 billion in repairs, according to the World Bank.

Natural disasters are getting more deadly and stronger due to changes in the earth’s climate. Half the world is in a drought brought on by climate change, according to NASA research. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in 2011 connecting the rise of natural disasters to global warming, declaring “a changing climate leads to changes in extreme weather and climate events.”

But despite the overwhelming evidence, many politicians and members of the Republican Party refuse to acknowledge the existence of global warming. They are wrong. It is not something you can believe in; it’s not a religion, it is scientific fact. Ignoring facts does not mean the situation will get better – it will get worse, even middle school kids know that. But not the some Republicans, it seems.

The Republican policy on global warming is a lot like its policy on other issues such as women’s health and only teaching abstinence in schools. Just pretending teenagers do not have sex does not mean they won’t, it only means they will most likely not do it safely.

“I’m not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet; I’m in this race to help the American people,” Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a recent interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” While Romney lost the environmental vote, he missed the point envormentalists have been trying to make. The American people live off the ocean and the planet; without the planet we don’t exist.

“Mr. Romney says he wants to ‘help the American people.’ Yet he mocks concern over human-caused climate change, arguably the greatest threat humanity has ever face,” environmental scientist Michael Mann told The Huffington Post.

Global warming needs to be taken seriously. As natural disasters rise in destruction, more people are hurt and more lives are put at risk because governments will not take steps to stop the destruction of the ozone layer overprotect the environment. Government action will not solve all of the problems regarding natural disasters but it will keep them from getting worse and may repair damage to the fragile ecosystem.

The facts cannot be ignored. Steps need to be taken on an international, national and state level to stop the ozone layer depletion, fix existing climate change problems and keep more problems from forming. Natural disasters cannot be totally prevented but they can be helped from getting worse and ruining more lives.

Claire Anderson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].

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  • L

    LorenSep 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    In regard to the HarryW’s of the world, who say things like “not in small part because of the climate change denial movement, supported largely by rightwing sources”, why do we never hear them say “not in small part because of the climate change alarmists movement, supported mostly by leftwing sources”. There is plenty of science out there that anywhere from completely to significantly to partially disagrees with climate change alarmists, supported mostly by leftwing sources, but they refuse to accept the evidence. They instead almost instantly go into the name calling mode and identifying their work as anything but science. As far as the IPCC, do a little research on WHY they exist, what their mission is, who they are (and who they aren’t) and what would happen to them and their money supply if they said anything other than what they say. But that would take some real research, and we know how the HarryWs feel about that. Let me give you the conclusion to save you the time you won’t spend anyway–they are incredibly biased and are not a credible body in any way.

  • D

    Dr. Ed CuttingSep 18, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Ummm — alleged global warming is now blamed for the Japanese earthquake?!?!?!

    H O W ????????

    And as to tornadoes in Massachusetts, what about the 1953 Worcester one — a F-5 and quite fatal.

  • C

    ChuckSep 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Global warming it is God’s judgement on this planet for the people being evil,and proud.

    13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

    14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    Just humble yourself and pray to God.

  • S

    SpaceSep 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Dear author please examine the tornado data from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center that I link to below as the data points conflates with your contention that tornadoes are increasing over the last three months and points to one of the lowest tornado counts in the USA record. Note that these links are from one of the world’s most prominent climate centers NCDC/NOAA.

    “According to data from the Storm Prediction Center, the count of preliminary tornado reports during June — 114 — was much below the 1991-2010 average of 243.”

    “According to data from the Storm Prediction Center, during July, there were only 24 preliminary tornado reports. This is the least number of tornadoes reported during the month since 23 tornadoes occurred in July 1950 and July 1951.”

    “According to data from the Storm Prediction Center, during August, there were 52 preliminary tornado reports. This is less than the 1991-2010 August average of 83 tornadoes, and once the final tornado count is confirmed, the August 2012 number could be revised lower.”

    Also I have spoken with my state climatologist and other climate scientists about tornadoes and they point out that scientists have to look at deaths per million when comparing past tornado deaths to current deaths to account for population increases, otherwise the data is biased. As you have not accounted for population growth, there is bias in your data but when that bias is removed we are seeing fewer deaths per million in the modern record. Those of us in science correct for data bias and in the future I would recommend that you seek someone with a science background to proof read your article.

    Warmer temperatures from cars and industry are not the cause of ozone hole formation as you state in paragraph 5. Again according to climate scientists, “The ozone hole, however, is not the mechanism of global warming.”

    I suggest that if you want to write about climate change, that you take the time to learn about climate change or you will continue to do harm to your most important asset as a journalist, credibility.

  • H

    HarryWSep 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    And not only will we need massive intervention from government entities, because we have waited so long, not in small part because of the climate change denial movement, supported largely by rightwing sources, but to avoid truly catastrophic outcomes, there will have to be severe and sudden (wrt human consciousness around the matter) changes made to avert said catastrophe.

    I *highly* recommend the website,, as a great resource to find out about this impending problem. We cannot afford to wait, any longer.

  • M

    memeSep 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    They only agree a crisis might happen, could happen and have NEVER said that a crisis “WILL” happen so why would you want this misery to be true?
    Find us one single IPCC warning that says a crisis will happen without being surrounded by “maybes” and “possibly”. Help my planet is on fire maybe?
    How close to the brink will science take us before they say it “WILL” happen?
    Science says:
    “Climate change is real and happening and may lead to unstoppable warming.”.
    “Climate change is real and happening and “WILL” lead to unstoppable warming.”.