Not Letting the Hurricane Crisis Go to Waste

by Jane M. Orient, M.D.

Miami mayor Tomás Regalado and MSNBC’s Ali Velshi are looking beyond the suffering that Hurricane Irma is causing in Florida. It’s “an opportunity” to talk about climate change. “This is something that needs to be addressed. If Washington doesn’t want to do it, we will do it by ourselves,” said Mayor Regalado.

The mayor is one of a number of state and local politicians, including California’s Governor Jerry Brown, who intend to implement local anti-climate change measures despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords.

The two especially fierce hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, are not just natural phenomena, some activists say, but God’s (or Nature’s) judgment—for using “fossil fuels” that emit carbon dioxide, thus causing “climate change” (if not “global warming,” the previous name for the crisis).

“Is this [Irma] a harbinger of things to come?” is the question in a featured posting by Physicians for Social Responsibility. [These disasters] remind us that “we must take urgent action now against climate change.” Actions include scaling back our use of fossil fuels and transitioning to “clean, carbon-free energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal.” Otherwise we will experience more frequent, more intense storms, and more “beyond-anything-experienced” flooding.

The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health states: “The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change concluded that addressing climate change is the greatest public health opportunity of the 21st century, and failure to adequately address it could undo most of the progress in global health over the past century.”

In response to such concerns, the first question in the Climate Change IQ project just launched by Doctors for Disaster Preparedness is: “Would lowering atmospheric CO2 prevent or mitigate hurricanes?”

The answer is clearly “No.”

Hurricane season has been very quiet for 12 years, until now. And over the past 140 years, the trend in hurricane frequency and intensity has been downward, even if Irma is included—even though atmospheric CO2 has constantly increased. The worst natural disaster in U.S. history, which killed up to 12,000 people, was the Galveston hurricane and floods—in 1900.

So what are the real, urgent needs of people facing these devastating disasters, in the context of the climate activists’ agenda?

Fuel. The millions of people in Florida ordered to evacuate ahead of the storm were running out of gasoline (a “fossil fuel”). Emergency measures were needed, such as lifting some regulations, to bring more gasoline and diesel into the state. In Texas, long lines of vehicles pulling boats brought the “Cajun Navy” to Houston to rescue people. The boats needed fuel too. These people are likely not in favor of suing Exxon Mobil and other suppliers for their supposed share in the damage allegedly caused by the 8 inches of sea level rise that have occurred since 1880.Electricity. Millions of Floridians will be without power, likely for weeks. That means no air conditioning and no refrigeration for food. And how will hospitals cope? Emergency generators can only provide so much.

Is the answer more wind and solar? Wind turbines have to shut down when the wind speed reaches around 55 mph. (The Labor Day hurricane of 1935 had wind speeds exceeding 200 mph.) They also shut down during a blackout as they require power from the grid. Solar panels will not produce power during a storm, and will they still be there afterward?

The safest and most robust power source is nuclear. Physicians for Social Responsibility opposes it. Some advocated shutting down Texas and Florida plants ahead if the storms. One stated concern was inability to keep water flowing over the spent fuel rods stored on site. Where are they kept? They just sit at the bottom of the “swimming pool.” The late Galen Windsor, when he was safety manager at a nuclear power station, enjoyed skinny dipping in the pool; the water was nice and warm.

Clean water and safe sewage disposal. The biggest health risk, aside from drowning, is probably widespread water contamination, leading to epidemic water-borne infectious disease. What is needed to repair water mains and purify water? Abundant fuel and electricity. Mosquito control. The hurricane will blow away mosquitoes too, but they will be back. No global warming needed—just standing water.

These latest natural disasters should remind us of the fierce power of Nature, and our utter dependence on abundant, reliable energy to survive and recover. The climate-change agenda is all about restricting our energy supply to sources most vulnerable to destruction in a crisis.


Dr. Jane M. Orient, M.D., has appeared on major television and radio networks in the U.S. speaking about issues related to Healthcare Reform.

Dr. Jane Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a voice for patients’ and physicians’ independence since 1943.

She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and has been the chairman of the Public Health Committee of the Pima County (Arizona) Medical Society since 1988.

Dr. Jane Orient has been in solo practice of general internal medicine in Tucson since 1981 and is a clinical lecturer in medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Her op-eds have been published in hundreds of local and national newspapers, magazines, internet, followed on major blogs and covered in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Dr. Jane Orient authored YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Health Care, published by Crown; the second through fourth editions of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis, published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; and Sutton’s Law, a novel about where the money is in medicine today.

She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Orient’s position on healthcare reform:

“The Healthcare plan will increase individual health insurance costs, and if the federal government puts price controls on the premiums, the companies will simply have to go out of business. Promises are made, but the Plan will deliver higher costs, more hassles, fewer choices, less innovation, and less patient care.”

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