New Orleans Is Sinking, Man, And I Don't Wanna Talk About Climate Change

Posted on Wednesday, September 07 at 14:43 by sthompson
In an article entitled "For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind", Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called attention to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's role in dismantling US support for the Kyoto protocol. Hurricane Katrina, Kennedy wrote, "is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children." In an opinion piece, Germany's Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin wrote that "[Bush] is closing his eyes to the economic and human costs his land and the world economy are suffering under natural catastrophes like Katrina," calling for a renewed commitment to Kyoto. A lone opinion piece in Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger entitled "Global Warming Beefs Up Hurricanes" pointed to a recent study linking the force of hurricanes to increases in water temperature due to climate change. Accusations flew of "exploiting the death and misery in New Orleans for their own political agenda" and "politicizing Katrina". Germany's Der Spiegel published a sampling of angry letters from Americans blasting Trittin for his insensitivity. "It is easy to assume that the recent rise in [the] number and ferocity [of hurricanes] is because of global warming," said the New York Times. "But that is not the case, scientists say," the Times continued. Cited by opponents of the first view as "one of the leading experts" on hurricanes, Dr. William M. Gray told the Times that hurricanes are a matter of "natural cycles" of weather. So which view is correct? Full article: http://dominionpaper.ca/media_analysis/2005/09/01/new_orlean.html [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on September 7, 2005]

Note: http://dominionpaper.ca...

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  1. Thu Sep 08, 2005 12:33 am
    While I won't dispute that global warming is occuring, and will not dispute that hydrocarbons are also a major contributing factor, I have a problem attributing the fault of this specific hurricane all to global warming and the fact that the US didn't sign on to Kyoto.

    Hurricanes occured before man set foot on this planet. They will occur long after (unless we eliminate all atmosphere before we go). Though periods of change exacerbate the storms, and man can be linked to severe hydro carbon releases, especially in the last 50 years... there are plenty of storms and droughts that occured historically to rival this storm. Katrina was only as bad as it was because it hit a weak spot. If this same storm hit Texas or Florida, the damage, while considerable, would not have been nearly on this scale.

    The dustbowl of the 1930's was the biggest drought the US had ever seen... long before global warming. Maybe it was brought on by the industrial revolution... or maybe larger climatic cycles played a part.

    Humanity was barely a factor in the ice ages. Or when tropical forests were alive and well in Alaska during the time of dinosaurs. Can't blame that on man.

    Humanity is making a mess of things. No doubt about it. And we are probably changing the climate faster than usual. But to attribute this hurricane and say that this shows why we must adhere to Kyoto is a flawed arguement.

    Two years of increased numbers of hurricanes does not a trend make. It makes a blip in the data.

  2. Thu Sep 08, 2005 12:47 am
    According to the small minded people running this shite, err site, everything that is bad is caused by the USA. If that bad thing happened to the USA, the USA brought it on its self or did it to itself deliberatly. The idea that Bush not signing Kyoto caused this hurricane is actually about as lucid as it gets.

  3. Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:20 am
    IMO both views are correct. It is true that human activity is influencing the planet's climat. It is a fact that warmer waters are responsible for more frequent and more intense hurricanes. This relationship is used each year to get an indication of the coming hurricane season. So there is going to be a relation between higher average temperatures caused by our changing climat and the intensity and frequency of hurricanes. However, this doesn't mean that this particular hurricane is caused by the changing climat. Even if there was no climat change a category 4 storm could have hit.

    Does this mean that climat change is insignificant? I don't think so. Chances are storms like these will hit more often and more easily reach category 5 status. As a rich country the US can plan for this change in climat. Plan for better levees, design and execute better evacuation plans and ultimately better rescue plans. If it doesn't, the US will face more death and destruction. However, to make this happen the US will have find the political will to invest more in public safety for all, instead of lowering taxes for the few.

  4. Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:46 pm
    The effects of climate change, or rather warming in our case, are not restricted to hurricanes. Here in BC, thousands of square kilometres of pine forests have been and are being destroyed by the pine bark beetle infestation on account on the mild winters. It takes a few days of -40C temperatures to kill the eggs, but we haven't had any for years, breeding more and more beetles. Within a year, or two, there won't be any living pines left on an area, the size of many US states, or Germany, France and Switzerland combined.

    Right now the dead trees are being logged in an accelerated rate, but when they run out the communities relying on logging and lumber will be left without economic base and, with Canadian, and also, American manufacturing, being destroyed by the "competitive equilibrium of globalized free trade", the livelihoods of millions of people will be wiped out.

    About 10 years ago we had a huge tent caterpillar infestation in this area, with billions of the worms eating up the leaves of all decidious trees, like aspens, poplars, etc, for 2 years. All the meadows, trees, the outside of buildings, vehicles, equipment, were covered by worms. The roads were shiny black and slick with the squashed mess, killing them by the millions as we drove along. All the birds and wildlife were gone other parts. Each moth laid 400 eggs, but then came a few days of - 40 C or 40 below F and the eggs were wiped out.

    We haven't had any -40C winters, for years and even our snowfall, required to replenish our water table, is way down. We can't even do a full load of laundry in one shot on account of water shortage, but have to spread it out. Should such infestation happen today, it would spread uncontrolled all over the country and possibly right across North America.

    I have very good, world class scientist friends in the environmental measurements field, who are worried stiff about what can happen with climate change, but nobody listens, as any attempt would "hinder economic growth". According to the silly platitudes by corporately controlled politicians and the faithful public on the subject. Ed Deak, Big Lake, BC

  5. by avatar Jesse
    Thu Sep 08, 2005 4:36 pm
    Facts:<br />
    <br />
    "The US contains 4% of the world's population but produces about 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions. By comparison, Britain emits 3% - about the same as India which has 15 times as many people "<br />
    -- <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1820523.stm">http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1820523.stm</a><br />
    <br />
    Under the Kyoto accord, the USA would be required to cut emmissions by 7%. This would *still* be far higher than any other industrialised country. <br />
    <br />
    Do you claim that the world's single biggest polluter isn't responsible at all for global warming? Or do you claim that dumping pollution into the environment somehow doesn't have any effect on the climate at all? Global weather IS getting worse; it is not just a coincedence that Katrina was the worst hurricane to hit the US. The cause and effect relationship isn't exactly hidden here. Insulting anyone who says as much doesn't change the facts. <p>---<br>Every time you complain about the moderators, god kills a kitten.

  6. Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:06 pm
    re: <blockquote> While I won't dispute that global warming is occuring, and will not dispute that hydrocarbons are also a major contributing factor, I have a problem attributing the fault of this specific hurricane all to global warming and the fact that the US didn't sign on to Kyoto. </blockquote> <P> <blockquote>According to the small minded people running this shite, err site, everything that is bad is caused by the USA. If that bad thing happened to the USA, the USA brought it on its self or did it to itself deliberatly. The idea that Bush not signing Kyoto caused this hurricane is actually about as lucid as it gets.</blockquote> <P> That's funny, because the author of this article didn't attribute this particular hurricane to Bush or climate change, and neither did I (and I'm site founder and Pres, so I can certainly be considered one of the main people running it). The article actually pointed out that few scientists would make such a cause and effect assertion (probably because they wouldn't confuse correlation and causation). The article says specifically: <P> <blockquote> Did human-caused climate change cause the massive and tragic devastation in New Orleans? Few scientists would be willing to endorse such a claim, due to the multiple possible factors involved. </blockquote> <P> The point of the story wasn't at all to point fingers at Bush as "THE cause of" Hurricane Katrina. The point of the story was that climate change in general has hardly been mentioned during all of the dramatic and constant coverage of this natural disaster. The more general context is not whether climate change caused Katrina, but whether climate change will cause more severe storm damage over time. As the article notes: <P> <blockquote> "Whether or not global warming increases the number or intensity of hurricanes, future storm damages are likely to rise substantially because of the increased amount of development in harm's way and the aggravating impacts of higher sea levels and degraded coastal ecosystems," said the report. </blockquote> <P> The article's emphasis on the lack of real information and debate on climate change in the wake of Katrina is made clear in the final paragraphs above all, where the author points out that media coverage related to climate change has been limited only to the question of whether climate change caused this particular storm, not concerns like that quoted above. <P> <blockquote> What continues to be the defining feature of the scientific and political debate, however, is that for the majority of the viewers and readers in Canada, there is no debate. <P> According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "raising people's concern and understanding of climate change would help to mobilize public support for climate protection." <P> As of this writing, some Canadian media outlets -- a few CanWest Global papers and CBC online -- have reprinted an Associated Press article entitled "Katrina also whipped up warming debate," and subtitled "conclusive link to stronger hurricanes is still missing". Taking its cue from the New York Times, the story limits its scope to the question of whether climate change caused the hurricane, ignoring the concerns raised by scientists in recent months and years. </blockquote> <P> So ultimately, whatever your opinion on climate change, Kyoto, and Bush, the author's point is that the conevntional media ISN'T or is BARELY covering it, and when the media looks at climate change it is sticking only with the simplistic angle of "did it cause Katrina in particular" rather than the general problem of increased storm damage on the whole from Katrina. On that I think we might all be able to agree. <p>---<br>"When I told him about class warfare, he asked if we did it in JellO."--translation/paraphrase, The Candidate, CBC<br />

  7. Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:14 pm
    PS where I said in my comment "rather than the general problem of increased storm damage on the whole from Katrina" I didn't mean to include "from Katrina"--that was left over from another sentence I removed, must have not cut far enough. It should just read "rather than the general problem of increased storm damage on the whole".

    ---
    "When I told him about class warfare, he asked if we did it in JellO."--translation/paraphrase, The Candidate, CBC

  8. Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:58 am
    Ed, Perdoon stary, what you are describing with the "worms" is a periodic pandemic.

    Lots of insects do that, like the spruce budworm, or the cicadias, or even the bibically cited locusts, still found in Sahalian Africa.

    Even like the climate cycles. Y'know, the longer term ice-ages? The shorter term Hurricane cycles? Drought cycles? Sunspot cycles? They come, and they go.

    Cycles.

    Multiple temporal cycles.

    Occasionally they intersect in time, and the relative importance of any one becomes exaggerated, as far as humans are concerned.

    Current measurements show melting of the arctic permafrost releases untold amounts of carbon dioxide from the formerly frozen swamps. Talk about releases of greenhouse gases!

    So, try to put it in perspective.

    Your "world class" friends are right to be worried. There's not a damn thing any one person, or country, can do about it.

    All is Doomed!

    Don't worry, you'll be dead before it gets really bad.



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