Katrina and Global Warming

The media is now finally picking up the angle of global warming. A very strongly worded editorial by Ross Gelspan in today’s Boston Globe argues Katrina’s real cause is global warming (along with flooding in Mumbai, heavy snows in SoCal, etc). The choice quote:

Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fox News counters with the loveable Pat Michaels, a UVA professor and CATO wonk, to summarize the research. (Note that he used the words: stastically significant, explanatory variable, variability explained by, and concomitant, showing why he is a professor and not a broadcaster). For the skeptical, see the $325K that ExxonMobil paid his organizations in the 2002-3.

I won’t delve into the science except to try and focus on what the real issues are for both the left and the right.

  1. Sea level is rising. The storm was by all counts not as bad as expected. The real lesson of Katrina is that the most prolific damage, human displacement, and economic cost came with the flooding, not the storm. This is the real worry for cities around the world with populations close to sea level. For the Bay Area, that means Martinez and Alameda could easily look like the images you see on TV today.
  2. Global Warming means more energy in storm systems. Hurricanes depend on warm water to build energy, and warmer water is leading to more intense storms (see Kerry Emanuel’s July 2005 Study in nature, release).
  3. We must act now. Science knows global warming is coming, but much like the city of New Orleans, we refuse to take pre-emptive action, choosing instead to deal with the consequences when they arrive. We all feel terrible about the death and destruction of today; lets use this opportunity to make sure this doesn’t happen again…all around the world.

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  1. Aaron Vallejo - September 4, 2005

    We all are starting to think of rebuilding our cities in the way the Chinese have already started to rebuild 17 of their cities based on nature’s circular solar design.
    Click here and listen to the 33:54minute presentation: http://www.ceim.ie.edu/
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  2. Casey - September 26, 2005

    We do need to take action for the future generations no one realizes it but this is going to kill people in the long run. Because we just went through hurricane Rita and our house has two trees in it. What would have happened if we would have been home, we could have died. This is getting more and more dangerous. We need to stop it NOW!!

  3. Ken - September 30, 2005

    Last July, I gave a presentation about global climate change at a local Toastmasters club. I mentioned that high ocean temperatures would increase the frequency and ferocity of hurricanes. I also mentioned that with higher ocean levels, a storm surge could flood many inland areas. I used New Orleans as an example, and predicted that millions of people could die, since the population of that city was some 8 million. It’s good that I was wrong about the number of deaths, only about a thousand died.
    Still, isn’t that far too much for something that was predicted by environmentalists for years?

  4. Mike, 24 - October 4, 2005

    It’s time for protest in the streets. If we fail to act on preserving our planet, we fail on the greatest scale of life. Where are all the men and women, all the elders and teenagers? Where are all the scientist, people of all faiths and ideas? It’s a tragedy that a human could walk into place of religon and pray to God to bring happiness or whatever ridiculous prayer they want answered that week, and then get up walk out of their “arena” and completely neglect the one thing that God has possibly given them, Earth. Put down the remote or the game controller, give up the so called neccesities of driving a monster truck. Please just look around and stop being so greedy. Earth is unexplainably beautiful. One of the finer qualities of Earth is its ability to recylce waste. Oil spills, deforestization, depliation of its O-zone layer, and lets not forgot about humans. We are smarter and luckier than dinosaurs. Please lets not continue in their path. Hit the streets, riot, protest. Get off your ass America.

  5. Adam Stein - October 5, 2005

    Or, ahem, just buy a TerraPass.
    Seriously, though — the problem is very real, and we need to think hard about concrete and constructive actions that we as individuals can take to bring about change.

  6. bil - December 8, 2005

    Global warming will be our biggest problem over the next few generations. regards