Officials cannot continue to ignore scientists

Many would like to believe that sometimes bad things just happen. However, with technology expanding faster than ever before and new research being published every year, scientists have enough information to begin drawing more educated conclusions about the environment. The devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas this August, Hurricane Sandy hitting New York almost five years ago and many other natural disasters in recent history, make it is easy to believe that climate change is causing waters to rise and the environment to get harsher.

In 2016, Houston officials had been warned that the infrastructure of Texas made the area a red flag zone in the case of a natural disaster. The city itself was built over a swamp, layering concrete over unstable areas that allow neither drainage nor protection in the event of a hurricane, which scientists projected as being highly probable. At that point, officials chose not to act on the possibility that a hurricane would be crippling to their city and attempted to shortcut scientists’ suggestions for infrastructure improvements. Instead, the city installed minimal protections against flooding. They attempted to create structures of concrete that would direct water in ways to allow drainage, however those structures were not effective when the predicted hurricane eventually hit.

Anything that has been scientifically hypothesized should be given merit, and this seems to not have been the case in this situation. At this point it is naive to believe that the number and severity of hurricanes in recent years is merely a coincidence. As a city official, turning a blind eye to science is foolish and unless there is reasonable doubt attached to warnings, science should not be ignored.

Many people in the United States have invested in the thought that climate change is nonexistent, and a made-up issue in order to distract from more pressing issues or to spend money on things that are irrelevant. To some, nothing needs to be done to sustain the environment and the chance of a major hurricane is as rare as it has always been. If hurricanes were still occurring as infrequently as people have been accustomed to, saving discussions about the faults in infrastructure for a later date would seem like the right choice. Storms are becoming a greater risk and should have been made a priority quite a while ago.

In a politician’s eyes, rebuilding a city’s infrastructure is not only a major project, but a huge drain of taxpayer money and something that must be weighed carefully. Indeed, the warning of the storm and the problems the concrete would cause in the face of a hurricane were only given to officials in 2016; even if officials had agreed to make improvements, it was likely they would not have been in the works quickly enough to make any difference. So, while the decision on whether or not to take precaution likely would not have made a difference, the politicians in Texas—and all other coastal cities—should take note that addressing environmental changes is something that must be made a priority.