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Claim: ‘Climate Change Makes Storms like Harvey More Severe’

AMY GOODMAN: So, if we can talk to you, you are the now resigned science envoy of the State Department, but if we can talk to you about what is happening right now in Texas. Tens of thousands of residents began evacuating coastal communities as forecasters predict that Hurricane Harvey could make landfall late Friday as a major category 3 storm, delivering a life-threatening 35 inches of rain to some parts of the Gulf Coast. Can you talk about this hurricane, what we are seeing, and whether you think it is related to climate change and global warming?

DAN KAMMEN: This is an area where the science is still building. We certainly have seen a number of climatologists — I’m a physicist who works on clean energy solutions. But, on the detection of climate change side, there is a building awareness of the degree to which climate change makes these types of tropical storms more severe, whether that’s more frequent or whether that’s stronger as an area that’s still under research, but it’s clear that events like this increased wildfires, droughts, these are all what we expect to see in a globally warmed climate changed world. And from my perspective, these are all economic and human, agricultural, and environmental costs. And when we talk about not stepping up to the plate and acting based on a scientific knowledge to reduce our global warming footprint, to reduce the amount of pollution so that we can limit the effects of climate change, these are all huge economic cost for us, the rest of the planet, that we are paying, and we are paying them already. And that’s really the sad part of the story, to me.

We have a very clear global consensus that we need to reduce our emissions to get — under the so-called two degree target. That’s about an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It’s herculean task, and every day we delay and every bit of our economy that isn’t looking to find opportunities to meet those targets but also to build more jobs. We have already seen tremendous job growth in the cleantech sector in the United States — a number of countries. These are lost opportunities, and they’re also costs where they going to be paying far into the future.