Search This Blog

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Hurricanes

Hopefully, everyone in Florida survived the storm and can soon start putting their homes and lives back together.

With two serious storms already in the books this season and more potentially on the it OK to talk about the "big picture?"

What do I mean by that?

Well, in the big picture, scientists have been saying that global climate change (espcially warming) caused by human activity (from burning fossil fuels) significantly intensifies the strength of storms -- and increases precipitation.


I'm certainly not alone in thinking about Hurricane Frances and global warming. The British newspaper, The Independent, reported Sunday:
...experts are getting increasingly worried. Last month beat all previous US records for big hurricanes and tornadoes, and equalled them for tropical storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the US government's Department of Commerce, said that this was partly due to a warmer Atlantic Ocean.

One of the world's leading authorities predicted two more big hurricanes before November's presidential election. And things are expected to get worse as global warming takes hold.

NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, based at Princeton University, says on its website: "The strongest hurricanes in the present climate may be upstaged by even more intense hurricanes over the next century as the Earth's climate is warmed by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
Floridians, in other words, are apparently suffering much the burden of the harm caused by more than a century's worth of industrialization.

At least one American paper has picked up this thread as well. The Wilmington Star, which is a North Carolina paper, editorialized Friday:
As ferocious Frances bears down on the East Coast, it's hard to dismiss the fear that gloomy scientists have been right: global warming is making hurricanes worse.
Perhaps John Kerry's advisors can start inserting more language about global warming and the need for the US to return to the international negotiations about this issue.

The Wilmington Star again:
If that's so [the idea that global warming is causing hurricans to be worse], we can't do anything about it at the moment. But we could do something about it in the future. We could take effective steps to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, which sends heat-trapping gases soaring into the atmosphere.

President Bush has opposed such steps in the past. He's ignored the Kyoto treaty, opposed higher fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, and encouraged the burning of more oil and coal. He's not likely to change his mind.
Maybe this is just on my mind as I spent many hours last week editing my coauthored book chapter on US foreign policy and the Kyoto Protocol. It'll be in the next edition of Ralph Carter's text.

No comments:

Post a Comment