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Three-Quarters of Americans See Weather Disasters, Like Hurricane Dorian, Worsening

Nearly three-quarters of Americans see weather disasters, like Hurricane Dorian, worsening and most of them blame global warming

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Americans, Weather Disasters, Hurricane
A rainbow rises over the extensive damage and destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in The Mudd, Great Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. VOA

Nearly three-quarters of Americans see weather disasters, like Hurricane Dorian, worsening and most of them blame global warming to some extent, a new poll finds.

And scientists say they’re right.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey shows 72% of Americans think catastrophic weather is more severe, while 4% see it as less nasty. About one-quarter say those disasters are about as extreme as they always were.

Half of those who think weather disasters are worsening say it’s mainly because of man-made climate change, with another 37% who think natural randomness and global warming are equally to blame.

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FILE – Destruction lies in the wake of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin, Sept. 6, 2017. VOA

The poll was conducted in mid-August before Dorian formed, pummeled the Bahamas and put much of the U.S. East Coast on edge.

“We continue to loot our environment and it causes adverse weather,” said John Mohr, 57, a self-described moderate Republican in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he was bracing for Dorian’s arrival.

On Tybee Island, Georgia, Tony and Debbie Pagan said they rarely worried about hurricanes after buying their home nearly 50 years ago.

Hurricane David in 1979 and Floyd in 1999 threatened them but did little damage. The last four years haven’t been so kind.

Also Read- Microsoft Joins Hands with Facebook to Fight ‘Deepfakes’

One miss, but two hits

Hurricane Matthew raked the island in 2016 and pushed several inches of floodwater into the Pagans’ low-lying house. Hurricane Irma the following year sent 2 feet of water surging into the home. And this year Hurricane Dorian threatened, but didn’t hit.

“This is climate change, though President Trump denies that it is,” Tony Pagan, 69, a retired electrician, said as he and his wife finished packing to leave Wednesday. “He needs to open his eyes.”

Majorities of adults across demographic groups think weather disasters are getting more severe, according to the poll. College-educated Americans are slightly more likely than those without a degree to say so, 79% versus 69%.

Americans, Weather Disasters, Hurricane
FILE – Indian residents queue with plastic containers to get drinking water from a tanker in the outskirts of Chennai, May 29, 2019. An unrelenting heat wave triggered warnings of water shortages and heatstroke in India on June 1. VOA

But there are wide differences in assessments by partisanship. Nine in 10 Democrats think weather disasters are more extreme, compared with about half of Republicans.

Americans this summer also are slightly more likely to say disasters are more severe when compared with a similarly worded question asked after hurricanes in 2013 and 2017.

“People are catching up with the science! Extreme events are always partly due to natural variability, but we do think many are increasing in frequency because of climate change,” Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald said in an email.

Heat, rain

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It’s more than hurricanes. A recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found that heat waves are happening more often, are nastier and last longer, while heavy downpours are increasing globally, said NASA and Columbia University climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig.

Chris Dennis, 50, a registered nurse and self-described liberal Democrat in Greenville, South Carolina, said he is seeing more intense and more frequent weather disasters than in the past.

“Years ago, we didn’t hear of these kinds of storms, at least that frequently,” Dennis said, taking a break from watching the CNN forum on climate change for Democratic presidential candidates. He said he kept noticing the damning statistics on carbon dioxide put in the air, saying the “numbers are cranking up like the national debt clock … that’s pretty significant, what we’re doing to our environment.”

Scientific studies indicate a warming world has slightly stronger hurricanes, but they don’t show an increase in the number of storms hitting land, Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said. He said the real climate change effect causing more damage is storm surge from rising seas, wetter storms dumping more rain and more people living in vulnerable areas.

Skeptic

Not everyone sees climate change making weather worse.

Though she’s weary of dealing with storms three of the past four years, Sandy Cason of Tybee Island said she’s not ready to blame climate change. She noted Georgia got hit by several powerful hurricanes in the 1800s.

“If you go back and read, it’s a cyclical thing. It really is,” Cason said. “If you read enough about the old storms, I don’t think you can” attribute the most recent storms to climate change.

The AP-NORC poll of 1,058 adults was conducted Aug. 15-18 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone. (VOA)

Next Story

Tech Giant Google Secretly Gathering Health Information of Millions of US Citizens

According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Google is reportedly gathering health information of millions of US citizens — without informing them or their doctors — to design an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software, the media reported.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, “Google is engaged with one of the US’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states” and at least 150 Google staffers may have access to the data.

St. Louis-based faith-based healthcare organisation Ascension is sharing lab results, diagnoses and hospitalisation records — as well as health histories complete with patient names and dates of birth — with Google, the report claimed.

“The initiative, code-named ‘Project Nightingale,’ appears to be the biggest effort yet by a Silicon Valley giant to gain a toehold in the health-care industry through the handling of patients medical data,” the report said.

The crunching of health data is the next big frontier for tech giants as Apple to Amazon and Microsoft are aiming big to infuse data findings into their devices and solutions in the burgeoning healthcare space.

The New York Times later wrote that “dozens of Google employees” may have access to sensitive patient data and some may have downloaded that data too.

As part of “Project Nightingale”, Ascension uploaded patient data to Google’s Cloud servers.

In a blog post, Google tried to clarify its partnership with Ascension.

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FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

“All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage,” said Tariq Shaukat, President, Industry Products and Solutions, Google Cloud.

Google said it has a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Ascension, which governs access to Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purpose of helping providers support patient care.

“To be clear: under this arrangement, Ascension’s data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we’re offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data,” said the company.

Ascension also issued a statement, saying it is working with Google to optimise the health and wellness of individuals and communities, and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities that enhance the experience of Ascension consumers, patients and clinical providers across the continuum of care.

“All work related to Ascension’s engagement with Google is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant and underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling,” said the healthcare company.

Also Read: Microsoft to Implement California’s Digital Privacy Law Throughout the US

According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing.

“This is one of the reasons we used a code name for the work — in this case, Nightingale,” it added.

However, neither Google nor Ascension directly replied to the WSJ report.

In 2017, Google partnered with the University of Chicago Medical Centre to develop machine learning tools capable of “accurately predicting medical events — such as whether patients will be hospitalised, how long they will stay, and whether their health is deteriorating despite treatment for conditions such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or heart failure.” (IANS)