Sunday, October 09, 2005

Don't Move to the Gulf Coast

SF Chronicle has a good piece on where we are in the hurricane debate, whether its global warming or just nature kicking our ass every few decades. The good news? If you're on either side of this debate you win. The bad news? No conclusive evidence points to either. However, we do have some rather strident climatologists who would love to give you their opinion, which is what we pay them to do. So listen up, especially if you're planning on taking residence along the Gulf Coast (if you do can I suggest All-State and Geico for everything from your Cheerios to your Chevy, 'cause it'll all be gone when the next Katrina comes blowin' through.)

Right now two theories are coming out of the science community. Scientists that believe the last 15 years of intense hurricane activity is due to annual ocillations within a larger hurricane cycle occupy one side of the ring. On the other, we have those that firmly believe that global warming continues to play a role in "supercharging" these storms into tropical cyclones on steroids. And of course we have those in the middle who refuse to sign on to either theory entirely and are comfortable sitting on the fence with their own data to back them up. One thing everyone seems to agree on? That hurricanes have been slamming the eastern coast of the U.S. for the past 15 years in an unusual display of ferocity, frequency and power.

Here's a key fact that I thought backed up the global warming theory:

"Atlantic waters have been in a warm phase since 1995, and "we can expect to be
in a warm phase for the next 10 to 20 years," said Ryan Boyles, another
hurricane expert at North Carolina State University. "Therefore, we can expect
an above-average number of storms in the next 10 to 20 years."

Well, thats not good news. So it seems everyone also agrees that we'll have more Katrina's and Rita's (and Stans) in the next 2 decades? This cycle, for those that believe this is a natural cycle, one that we've weathered before, will be much longer than previous hurricane cycles or at least ones that were measureable. And if the ocean continues to warm (all theories point to yes thus far) we'll be getting more and more intense storms as well.

1 comment:

green mountain man said...

Thanks for the heads up on the SF Chronicle piece--which I had a chance to read. Seems like they were trying to present a picture of the scientific community as split 50/50 on the question of whether global warming was causing an increase in the number of hurricanes. I'm a believer in "fair and balanced" journalism (not to be confused with Fox) but attributing the cause of these storms to "natural cycles" leaves us with very few options--other than getting out of the way of the next big one...or two or three. If 9 out of 10 scientists agree that global warming is happening, and that there are significant (read huge) implications for small increases in average temperature when multiplied over an area of 3,000 square miles, and that the economic impact of doing nothing is measured in the hundreds of billions (that's a "B") of dollars--not to mention the immeasurable human suffering, (whew)we can not afford to simply say, "well, just another cycle of Mother Nature." I think Mom Nature is requiring us to be a bit more intelligent and more responsive.