Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Four More Years of Data

Al Gore, September 9, 2005:
Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. A scientist at MIT has published a study well before this tragedy showing that since the 1970s, hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific have increased in duration, and in intensity, by about 50 %. The newscasters told us after Hurricane Katrina went over the southern tip of Florida that there was a particular danger for the Gulf Coast of the hurricanes becoming much stronger because it was passing over unusually warm waters in the gulf. The waters in the gulf have been unusually warm. The oceans generally have been getting warmer. And the pattern is exactly consistent with what scientists have predicted for twenty years. Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming.
Hurricanes over the years:

source: Florida State University's Ryan Maue

Tornadoes over the years:

source: NOAA's National Weather Service

If this seems like old news, that's because it is. As WaPo columnist Joel Achenbach says, "[s]omewhere along the line, global warming became the explanation for everything."

Still, there's a silver lining among the storm clouds: although the web site for Gore's film still includes the hurricane claim, Anthony Watts reports that "Al Gore has dropped the [hurricane frequency] related slide in his traveling PowerPoint show."

Facts are stubborn things--so count me with Watts commenter Steve Sadlov:
I just figured it out. Hurricane frequency is a leading economic indicator!
Suggesting again that finance and climate change share at least one trait: their computer models are way off. Warming, if it exists, isn't driving hurricanes.

(via Watts Up With That?, twice)


OBloodyHell said...

Look, New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen.

Waaaaay back in the early-mid 90s, an offshoot of the history mag "American Heritage" called "American Heritage of Invention and Technology" had an interesting piece on the pumps used in New Orleans, which were the sort of big old behemoth things that work for two centuries.

But even then, they identified that the pumping capacity would likely be overwhelmed if a class 4 or better hurricane hit NO.

Katrina was Class 5, of course.

What happened was unfortunate but hardly unexpected or unpredictable. It was very predictable, and the reason it wasn't dealt with is because those in charge -- the government -- did not do their $%^$%&^$%&& jobs and increase the pumping capability and/or the effectiveness of the levies. They were too busy spending the tax revenues getting taken in on doubling the size of the whole of entitlements and various freebies, which basically doubled under the Clinton admin*. Bread. Circuses. That kind of thing.


*And yes, I'm also aware that Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan/Bush and Bush II also neglected this area. But Reagan/Bush & predecessors had the cold war to deal with, and Bush II had other distractions which you might recall. Clinton, however, had the "peace dividend" which he decided didn't need to be even partly put into an infrastructure that even then was being labeled as needing critical attention.

Funny how there's always money for concert tickets, but never money to fix the car, when it comes to government spending, innit? "Priorities up the fundament" is the operative term.

OBloodyHell said...

> "Al Gore has dropped the [hurricane frequency] related slide in his traveling PowerPoint show."

Yes, but unfortunately he hasn't dropped it down his throat and choked to death on it...

But that's life and the Septic Tank Rule of Politics.