Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday pointed to global warming as a major cause of Hurricane Dorian, which has pummeled the Bahamas with devastating winds and massive flooding and is slowly churning toward the coast of Florida.
In a tweet, the Democratic presidential candidate slammed the fossil fuel industry for wreaking havoc on the environment, arguing that it “creates death and destruction, then spends billions denying its responsibility.”
“Let us be clear: Hurricane Dorian has everything to do with climate change, which is the existential crisis of our time,” he added.
Sanders’ remarks were spurred by a New York Times op-ed on worsening hurricanes, which was shared by the New Consensus, a liberal think tank helping to develop the Green New Deal. Sander’s is a co-sponsor of a version of the Green New Deal. which proposes a broad range of environmental and economic initiatives and has been closely linked to freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
As of Tuesday, Dorian had wound down from a Category 5 storm to a Category 2. It was initially able to gain significant force by feeding on warm ocean waters. Though it may be too early to determine the exact impact of climate change on the hurricane’s development, the warming of the planet’s oceans seems to have fueled upticks in the intensity of hurricanes. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 90% of Earth’s warming over the last 50 years has occurred in the planet’s oceans, where heat is absorbed much more readily than on land.
The 2018 National Climate Assessment, published by the federally mandated U.S. Global Change Research Program, pointed to the rise in greenhouse gasses as a contributing factor in triggering hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean region.
It also attributed the intensity of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season to “a combination of natural and human-caused” elements. That year’s hurricanes included Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria ― each of which reached Category 5 or 4 intensity.