Opinion: Another hurricane. Another fire. Readers put climate change front and center

An area in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., where homes once stood is a muddy, mostly barren mess after Hurricane Ian struck
An area in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., where homes once stood is a muddy, mostly barren mess after Hurricane Ian struck on Thursday.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Years ago, climate change would have come up in letters on a recent cataclysmic hurricane in the eastern U.S. or a large wildfire in California, but it wouldn’t have driven the discussion. Since then, wildfires that might have been historic in 2010 now appear manageable compared to the burns that regularly scorch hundreds of thousands of acres today. Similarly, hurricanes that devastate entire islands or portions of states are becoming more frequent, even damaging areas that were still recovering from the last storm.

Today, when a hurricane floods a Gulf Coast city or a fire burns a mountain town, climate change tends to be the central focus of our letter writers. And for good reason: Although rising temperatures (or any other contributing factor) are not the sole cause of any single weather event, we know a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture and creates more instability, and hotter oceans contribute to more powerful storms.

Since Hurricane Ian first slammed into the U.S. mainland and inundated parts of Florida with a 500-year flood, the vast majority of letters discussing it have made climate change the central focus and called for decisive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.



To the editor: Climate change is upon us with a fury. Storms and floods have become more horrific; drought and wildfires destroy people, property and wildlife. It took years for the majority to accept that the climate was changing, that it was not just natural fluctuations. Now we often see and hear the term “climate change” to account for this destruction. That’s a step in the right direction.

But at times, I fear we have become inured to that phrase and simply accept it as the “new normal.” Perhaps we should instead substitute the reason behind climate change: burning fossil fuels.

The state of Florida is now a disaster area because we burn fossil fuels instead of using the clean energy technologies available to us. This is within our control. We can ease the worst effects of climate change if we make that transition our highest priority.

Mary Clumeck, Santa Ana


To the editor: Hurricanes, atmospheric rivers, wildfires. A billion here and a billion there for rebuilding.

How much better off we could be if we slowed climate change with a tax on polluters. A well-crafted carbon fee with paybacks for lower-income residents is what’s missing, and we need to act quickly and effectively.


Legislation to enact such a program has been proposed in the last two Congresses; and let’s hope we see it succeed in the next.

Dennis Thompson, Santa Barbara


To the editor: Now that Hurricane Ian has devastated part of Florida, we must finally acknowledge the real costs to our civilization from climate change. This is not normal, and we can’t become complacent with 500-year storms occurring a few times each decade. The costs — to property, our environment and human suffering — cannot continue to be absorbed or minimized.

We are told that the frequency and power of these events is a direct result of our warming climate. A warmer atmosphere absorbs more moisture and creates these behemoths. We can continue to suffer their impact or we can choose to stop filling our atmosphere with carbon.

This is an election year; let’s vote for candidates who seek to address the problem rather than those who would continue avoiding it.

David Gaines, Studio City



To the editor: After living in Florida for 41 years, I have been through many storms and know what it’s like to have no electricity. Cold showers are no fun. And living without air conditioning with high heat and humidity can be challenging.

By the grace of God, my community was spared the wrath of Hurricane Ian. But my heart aches for all of those devastated by the storm and to those who lost loved ones. The beautiful Sunshine State has been dealt a cruel blow, and while it is sad to see the horrific images on the news, we are grateful to all the first responders who risk their lives to save the lives of others.

And bravo to our dedicated Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is committed to bringing aid to all of those in need and getting Florida back up on its feet as soon as possible.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater, Fla.


To the editor: We should remember — the increased frequency of strong hurricanes, intensifying droughts, deaths of polar bears, decline of the coral reefs, worse flooding and other problems are symptoms of global warming. And they are brought to you by Big Oil, the auto manufacturers and other corporate interests.

It’s not unlike the tobacco companies bringing us lung cancer or carmakers giving us sudden accelerations and exploding gas tanks. At least the auto industry seems to realize that adopting safety features and building electric cars can make them more money in the long run.


Unfortunately, populist demagogues have deceived a large part of the electorate to support environmental suicide. I am not a socialist, but something has to be done to put human welfare and conscience above corporate profits.

Bill Mosier, Hermosa Beach