What is causing the increase in deadly storms?

21 September 2005 - 9:30pm

cartoon by Clay Bennett in the Christian Scientist Monitor

The Pot is Boiling
by Keith Mylett on 21 September 2005

Hurricanes aren’t anything new. They’ve always been around and probably always will be. Hurricane like occurrences can even be seen on the gas giant Jupiter. My neighbor told me about his partying days when he would philosophize with his friends about how galaxies are spiral shaped just like hurricanes. Hurricanes like Katrina show how man truly lives at the mercy of Mother Nature. But the massive destruction caused by Katrina, with Rita currently kicking towards the Gulf Coast like a boot in the gut of someone down, demands a more serious analysis than a philosophical discussion over a joint.

Recently, Stanley Goldenberg, who works for the NOAA, and Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center, have been making the rounds in the media and in Congressional hearings. These scientists are assuring us that increased hurricane activity is not due to global warming. They say that we are entering a 20-year cycle of increased hurricane activity. Contrary to what you might be thinking, this cycle is not being caused by the immense amounts of hot air coming out of these guys’ holes. No one can argue that nature moves in cycles, but do these government scientists even know what global warming is?

Goldenburg himself stated that the “the main environmental factor is a change in ocean temperatures in the Atlantic,” for the cause of the recent increased hurricane activity. “We’re not talking about long term global warming, we’re talking about a cycle that goes up and down, a little bit warmer for a few decades and a little bit cooler for a few decades. That’s really what we’re seeing,” the NOAA scientist said. That’s really what we’re seeing? I don’t know about you, but what I’m really seeing is unprecedented storms the size of Texas lining up to the Gulf Coast like SUVs at a Costco gas station.

Hmmm, so it’s not global warming that’s causing this spike in deadly wind and rain, but it is warmer water. OK, but since the vast majority of the scientific community (except those on Bush Jr.’s payroll) say that global warming is happening now, couldn’t that also be contributing to the cycle, making it even warmer? Now, I’m no expert, I don’t have all the hard data, but my common sense tells me that global warming could currently, or at least in the future, be responsible for more and bigger storms.

Hurricanes are formed by moisture that rises off of the sea, the more the ocean warms the more water evaporates. This evaporation is essentially the birth of a hurricane, with other influences such as the rotation of the earth and the low pressure caused by the evaporation and consequential rain creating what we know as a hurricane. So the warmer the ocean, the bigger and stronger the hurricane. Hence, global warming of the oceans equals more fuel for storms.

Perhaps Goldenburg and Mayfield should stop pacifying the public and at least admit that there’s the possibility of a connection between Katrina and global warming. Don’t expect it though. In fact, don’t be surprised if the government proclaims that if global warming will melt the ice caps, it might be the solution to our warm-water related hurricane problem. Let’s not plan for our future by only rebuilding bigger levees and stronger buildings. Let’s address global warming and the terrifying environmental possibilities it could usher on to our country and our world.

for additional information on the subject see:

Island Breath: The Disapearing Mississippi Delta

Island Breath: The Day After Tomorrow: Global Warming


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