Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Katrina has nothing to do with global warming.
But that doesn't stop an enviro-predator like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from writing on the Huffingtonpost website: "Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and - now -- Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children."
Or consider Jurgen Tritten, Germany's environmental minister, in an op-ed in the Frankfurter Rundschau. He wrote (according to a translation prepared for me): "By neglecting environmental protection, America's president shuts his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes like Katrina inflect on his country and the world's economy."
Indeed, there is no evidence that hurricanes are intensifying anyway. For the North Atlantic as a whole, according to the United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Organization: "Reliable data…since the 1940s indicate that the peak strength of the strongest hurricanes has not changed, and the mean maximum intensity of all hurricanes has decreased."
But environmental extremists do not want to be bothered with the facts. Nor do they wish to mourn the destruction and death wreaked on a glorious city. To their everlasting shame, they would rather distort and exploit.
Glenn Reynolds links to articles supportive and critical of Glassman. It seems to me the problem is sample size. The letter in Nature says that warmer sea surface temperatures would lead to more intense cyclones. (Natch) Now we have to connect that to global warming and global warming to a solution. Not as simple as it sounds.
Both Kennedy and Tritten of Germany have used Katrina for political purposes. Kennedy used Katrina to spout off about the war in Iraq and Tritten used Katrina to promote the Kyoto Protocol. Until this kind of rhetoric is removed from the global warming issue I'm afraid it will not be taken seriously.
I see your point on how political opportunism can undermine the global warming argument, but I hope people wouldn't choose to downplay the potential impact this issue because of the rhetoric of uneducated partisans. There are a lot of other voices out there. In fact, here are three recent converts whom you should take seriously: I noticed in the two weeks leading up to the summer's G8 conference that The Wall Street Journal, Exxon/Mobil, and President Bush himself all conceded that greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming, with the first two actually stating that fossil fuels are a source of greenhouse gasses. This was a major shift for all three, as I had never seen anything but out-and-out denial previously. It seems that the argument has begun to move from "yes-or-no" to "how much" do fossil fuels contribute to GW. Hopefully we'll be able to put the rhetoric, politics and opportunists aside to judge the facts however they fall.
There has been an increase in surface temperatures. Atmospheric temperatures are not increasing. The increase has not been abnormal compared to what has occurred during the past. Just as it was a matter of time until a hurricane hit N.O. and there was very little we could do to protect the city, there is very little we can do to prevent global warming. We are kidding ourselves if we think that human efforts can change the weather on a global scale. I don't like bad science in any debate and the use of Katrina is nothing but politics. If we really want to try something we should be rapidly approving nuclear power plants and I don't see the Left championing that cause just yet. Let's work on making cheap electricity via nuclear power and then we can talk about tax incentives for switching to hybrid and hydrogen powered vehicles. More on the left using Katrina to flog global warming later.