Printer Friendly

After Katrina come the global warming blowhards.

ITEM: The online version of Time magazine for August 29 headlined its immediate post-hurricane article, "Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?" The highlighted subhead indicates its slant: "Warm ocean temperatures are a key ingredient for monster hurricanes, prompting some scientists to believe that global warming is exacerbating our storm troubles."

ITEM: Business Week Online for September 1, as posted on, says the disaster brought out "everyone with an agenda" to push his "pet ideas." A Texas congressman was cited as saying that more domestic oil production could "solve our energy woes," and that more drilling could already be taking place in Alaska. "On the other side of the political spectrum, activist Robert E Kennedy Jr. blames the Bush Administration for failing to push tough fuel economy standards and curbs on global warming. Says Kennedy: 'Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.'"

CORRECTION: In using Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as an "expert" on a topic, Business Week is giving him credibility that he doesn't deserve. Significantly, Business Week did not pass along the real focus of Kennedy's remarks. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., attorney for the Natural Resource Defense Council, specifically blamed the hurricane and its horrendous swath of damage on President Bush, Mississippi Governor (and former Republican National Committee chairman) Haley Barbour, and the failure to ratify the Kyoto Treaty on global warming and cap carbon dioxide emissions.

If one wants to deal in facts, this should be considered: if Kyoto had been ratified and followed by all its signatories, it might reduce the surface temperature of the Earth by a few tenths of a degree in a century, while forcing huge cutbacks on energy use. It would have cost up to 3.2 million jobs in the U.S. and more than $1,700 per household annually (as estimated by the Energy Information Administration). That expense, as liberals are wont to say, would be borne disproportionately by the poor and minorities.

By the way, Kennedy's explanation also didn't account for how a Category Four storm that hit Galveston, Texas, way back in 1900 and killed some 8,000 could have happened, since global warming would not supposedly occur until more than a century later.

Time's account, above, cited "some" scientists, while playing down those who disagreed with its preferred findings. While warm water does have an effect on the strength of hurricanes, the director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University, James J. O'Brien, says there is no scientific evidence that such areas of warm water are increasing in size (as noted in the October issue of Environment and Climate News). The ECN also cites a century of reports from the National Hurricane Center revealing that the 1940s (well before global warming's supposed onslaught) was the decade with the largest number of hurricanes coming ashore in the U.S. Their frequency has since decreased.

"Katrina has nothing to do with global warming," writes James Glassman on the Tech Central Station website. "Nothing. It has everything to do with the immense forces of nature that have been unleashed many, many times before and the inability of humans, even the most brilliant engineers, to tame these forces. Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade."

Kennedy's comments first appeared in a blog run by gadfly activist Arianna Huffington called the "Huffington Post," then were widely published elsewhere. As Robert E Kennedy, Jr. tells it, Governor Barbour wrote the president a note, which persuaded him not to sign the treaty, which brought about several years of high carbon dioxide levels, which warmed the oceans unbearably, which resulted in the storm that ravaged the Gulf Coast. The fact that the storm shifted to hit Mississippi directly is portrayed as apparent retribution for Barbour's memo.

Moreover, maintains Kennedy, "the science is clear. This month [August], a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming."

The author of that Nature piece is one Kerry Emanuel. While Emanuel's work may have impressed Kennedy, Colorado State University's William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science who issues well-publicized annual hurricane forecasts, seems singularly underwhelmed. "It's a terrible paper," he told the Boston Globe, "one of the worst I've ever looked at."

Patrick Michaels, a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and author of Meltdown, an excellent book on global warming distortions, is very skeptical about the assertion in Nature that hurricanes have doubled in power in the last few decades. So is the University of Colorado's Roger Pielke, Jr., director of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Research Policy. Pielke, by the way, not long ago resigned from the government's Climate Change Science Project, citing political bias built into the way evidence was being presented. Professor Pielke is adamant that there is little, if any, evidence of global warming in the patterns of hurricanes.

Citing Pielke's work, Professor Michaels has written: "Hurricanes are causing greater dollar damages because more and more people are building increasingly expensive beachfront monstrosities that have financially appreciated during the recent real-estate bubble. Account for these and there is no significant change in hurricane expenses along our coast. Illinois climatologist Stanley Changnon has also studied this for non-hurricane weather damage over the entire country with similar results."

Continued Dr. Michaels: "Pielke told me that, 'analysis of hurricane damage over the past century shows no trend in hurricane destructiveness, once the data are adjusted to account for the dramatic growth along the nation's coasts.'"

The massive destruction in New Orleans was greatly exacerbated by both the actions and inactions of officials who were unprepared for the foreseeable results of such a storm and then responded poorly, coupled with the failures of man-made levees that allowed waters to swamp a city that largely sits below the levels of Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi River.

If public policy were to follow the course demanded by exploitative blowhards such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the damage would be more injurious and last much longer.
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Opinion Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Hurricane Katrina
Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 3, 2005
Previous Article:The man who would not be king: at the end of the War for Independence, George Washington foiled a military junta's plan to establish a dictatorship...
Next Article:Imprisonment without trial.

Related Articles
Warming to Rita.
The wind and the fury: has climate change made hurricanes fiercer, or are such claims hot air?
What global warming may do to future storms.
Politics meets science: in November 2005, a gathering in Montreal will try to set the agenda for what happens on the global warming file after the...
Hurricanes and CD jewel cases.
Katrina begets racial and environmental agitators.
Exporting calamity: Katrinas for everyone; Coming soon to a coast near you.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |