No overall trend in hurricane frequency has been detected so far. But using a new measure of a hurricane power, Kerry Emanuel shows that the destructive potential of tropical cyclones has nearly doubled over the past 30 years, and is highly correlated with tropical sea-surface temperature. Storms are on average lasting longer and developing greater intensity than they did in the mid-1970s. Such a dramatic increase is matter for concern: future global warming would almost certainly increase sea-surface temperatures and hence the destructive potential of tropical cyclones. With populations in coastal areas also on the increase, more people would be at risk than ever before.
President George W. Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." Well, no one except the entire world and even Mr. Bill.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went shoe shopping on Fifth Avenue, but not before she played tennis and yukked it up at Spamalot
The Viceroy in charge of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff said "We're much better prepared than we've ever been." I'm not sure if that was before or after he reminded us that September is National Preparedness Month, so be sure to stock up on duct tape.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown leapt into action, mustering all the emergency disaster management skills he learned as a lawyer for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department (from which he was fired). His money quote: "Paula, the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today."
The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert said, eh, maybe we should just forget all about rebuilding New Orleans. Because it might cost money and stuff.
The Pentagon, headed by Donald Rumsfeld, reassured America that, yes, the Country music hoedown with Clint Black on September 11th is still on, pard'ner! And maybe we'll even break the record for the longest line dance.
The head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, sent out an email stressing that now---for God's sake, people---NOW is the time when we must repeal that which is causing our country to go down the tubes: the estate tax.
And Vice President Dick Cheney was still on vacation.
The situation is analogous to rolling loaded dice: one could, if one was so inclined, construct a set of dice where sixes occur twice as often as normal. But if you were to roll a six using these dice, you could not blame it specifically on the fact that the dice had been loaded. Half of the sixes would have occurred anyway, even with normal dice. Loading the dice simply doubled the odds. In the same manner, while we cannot draw firm conclusions about one single hurricane, we can draw some conclusions about hurricanes more generally. In particular, the available scientific evidence indicates that it is likely that global warming will make - and possibly already is making - those hurricanes that form more destructive than they otherwise would have been.
The key connection is that between sea surface temperatures and the power of hurricanes. Without going into technical details about the dynamics and thermodynamics involved in tropical storms and hurricanes, the basic connection between the two is actually fairly simple: warm water, and the instability in the lower atmosphere that is created by it, is the energy source of hurricanes.
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