The official hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin (the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) spans June 1st to November 30. A full month left to watch for tropical disturbances seems like a long time when you consider just how many records have already been set in 2020. According to The Weather Channel, twenty-two named storms were the earliest to form on record this year. Ten mainland U.S. landfalls edges out a previous record set over a century ago. This September had the most named storms ever; three of which occurred in a six hour span. Lastly, five tropical cyclones spinning at the same time tied a previous record.
Although the state of New Jersey and other states in the Northeast haven’t felt much of this unprecedented activity, there is no denying that it is happening. Science keeps telling us that warming oceans continue to produce a higher quantity of stronger storms that are intensifying faster.
The most relevant question to ask this week is to what extent our worsening climate will be politicized. We’ve seen clear lines drawn in the national sand when it comes to issues like the murder of an unarmed black man by a police officer. The coronavirus has forged a divide between Americans that can easily be compared to the one that the Civil War was fought over. Once again, hundreds and thousands of lives are being lost.
Will the majority of Americans simply ignore what doesn’t affect them directly? Why shouldn’t the repeated destruction of waterfront communities along the Gulf Coast be a call to action for those who remain unaffected by the uptick in storms? As a nation we are overdue for another Pearl Harbor moment, one that is capable of unifying us to swift action despite our differences. The weather has always been good for small talk. Maybe now it’s time for big talk.