- Hurricane Laura not only shows how climate change is creating stronger hurricanes, but also how low oil demand is and why even the government believes we’re in for bigger floods.
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Sometimes, people trust in science. Sometimes, they need a Category 4 hurricane with 150 miles-an-hour winds to make the point.
Hurricane Laura, which made landfall Thursday morning as one of the strongest storms to hit Louisiana on record, is handling the latter.
While scientists cannot say that climate change caused a specific storm like Laura, they can say that global warming makes Category 4 hurricanes more common and more likely to have increased rainfall. Hurricane Laura’s death toll stands at four, but there are worries that will grow with the following storm surge.
However, even before all the damage is totaled, Hurricane Laura has already forcefully made some broader points about climate change. Even though 84% of oil production in the Texas-Louisiana border area — home to about 15% of America’s oil output — was shut down because of Laura, the price of oil actually dropped yesterday because pandemic-era demand is so low.
“In normal times, hurricanes would cause substantial, albeit temporary, disruption of refinery operations, gasoline distribution and local shortages, given the concentration of U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast,” Manish Raj, chief financial officer at Velandera Energy, told MarketWatch. “However, since U.S. refineries are currently operating well below their designed utilization, there is sufficient refining capacity outside of the Gulf Coast to contain a widespread supply disruption.”
This comes as the Federal Emergency Management Agency announces a new $500 million program to relocate people out of areas prone to flooding during storms like Laura, as well as a similar $16 billion plan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Climate change has made a “managed retreat” from these areas unavoidable, government officials say.
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