Katrinanomore&global warming
September 9, 2005 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Katrinanomore&global warming Welcome to the first web site in America dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the connection between hurricane Katrina and global warming. See below an essay just written by author Mike Tidwell that explains how climate change will soon turn every coastal city in America into another New Orleans unless we make a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy worldwide.
posted by Postroad (42 comments total)
...will soon turn every coastal city in America into another New Orleans...

Uh... ya lost me.
posted by BobFrapples at 9:02 AM on September 9, 2005

The answer lies in a phenomenon called the “law of unintended consequences.”

There's your answer bobFrapples! Where's the reference that "Bush's own administration" is saying that the sea level will rise 1-3ft by 2100? That's 2.5 inches a year. Are we seeing that right now? Where's all this extra water coming from?
posted by geoff. at 9:16 AM on September 9, 2005

Well, the rhetoric at that website is cranked a couple of notches too high, maybe, but it's better than nothing, I guess: I spent all last week annoying the crap out of my family with my rants about how there wasn't even passing mention of climate change anywhere in the blanket coverage.

An analogy: if a major American city was more or less destroyed by a chemical weapon, wouldn't there be experts brought in to discuss what kind of chemicals, how they got there and how they act at a scientific level? If you ask questions about the science of Katrina, you'd inevitably find yourself talking about climate change, which I have to assume is why it's not being discussed. Let's talk about nature's fury 24/7, but don't say a word about how that furious "nature" happens to include a strangely overheated Gulf of Mexico that's producing storms of unprecedented ferocity for some reason.

Anyway, I've been waiting for an opportunity to post this:

Jeremy Rifkin on Katrina and global warming.

posted by gompa at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2005

man this stuff just scares the living shit out of me. I wish I could find a site with non-biased actual facts about Global Warming (or if it's just a passing phase and everything will be fine and rosey in a few years)
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2005

I have not examined this subject deeply (or made up my mind about it), but as I see it, the "global warming question" is actually at least THREE questions:

1) Is global warming occurring?

2) If so, when did it start?

3) If so, what are the causal links to human activity?

posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2005

gompa, that's a bit of a stretch. As far as I've gathered, there were hurricanes before the industrial age. And NO was built below sea level with levees that needed reinforcing.

or what Deepspace said.

tho geoff's figure is pretty spooky, if it's accurate.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:37 AM on September 9, 2005

I should add that, the more shrill doomsday scenarios we hear, no matter how good intentioned, the more people are likely to ignore evacuation warnings when something really is coming. And this site is nothing if it isn't shrill.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:39 AM on September 9, 2005

geoff: Where's the reference that "Bush's own administration" is saying that the sea level will rise 1-3ft by 2100? That's 2.5 inches a year. Are we seeing that right now? Where's all this extra water coming from?

This report, which is the first thing I found on Google, and which you probably could have found too, might well be what they're referring to:
This report contains the findings and conclusions concerning how the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would be impacted by a rise in relative sea level. Based on information recently released by the United Nations on the range in the magnitude of potential rise in sea level, two primary sea level rise scenarios were examined, a 1-foot and 3-foot increase by the year 2100.

You seem to be assuming that such a rise in sea levels would come at the steady rate of 2.5 inches a year, which seems doubtful to me. I'd expect it to increase either steadily or exponentially. And I imagine the "extra" water would be coming largely from the polar ice caps.
posted by uosuaq at 9:43 AM on September 9, 2005

Geoff: 3ft / 95 years = 0.37 inches per year.

A 1ft rise would be equivalent to 0.32cm per year, not a great increase over the 0.1cm-0.15cm per year observed over the previous 100 years or so.

You don't need extra water for sea levels to rise - you just need thermal expansion from higher sea temperatures.
posted by Leon at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2005

From Deepspace's second link:

The costing is based on the assumption that cutting global warming would require reducing the world's consumption of oil and energy, and that this in turn would reduce global growth by 0.5 percentage points a year for five years.

First part of the assumption: imminently reasonable. Second part: statistical myopia at its finest. Because of course reducing energy consumption is an absolute economic loss, right? It creates no new economic activity and leads to no (reinvestable) savings whatsoever, and the fact that reducing consumption finally addresses the fact that the earth's resources are finite counts for nothing at all.

As for that first link, let's just say the fact that the guy prominently links to Ann Coulter says more than anything in his fact-deficient rant ever could. Much as the hysterical Coulter constantly accuses her opponents of being overexcited, this guy vomits out the phrase "junk science" to hide the fact that his opinion is based on no science at all.

On preview:

Hands of Manos:
If everything's fine and rosey in a couple of years, I'll happily eat my sandals on live webcam for your enjoyment. The IPCC is nonbiased; the UK's Hadley Centre is nonbiased; 99.9 percent of climatologists everywhere are unbiased; the governments of almost every nation on earth save the US are, in the aggregate, unbiased. All agree it's happening, and that its impact will be catastrophic.


1) Yes.

2) The Industrial Revolution.

3) Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases from a wide range of human activities.
posted by gompa at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2005

Was this website paid for by Exxon? If you want to see how real scientists approach this see the entry at Real Climate: Hurricanes and Global Warming - Is There a Connection?
posted by stbalbach at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2005

ed_de_bah: You got me. Hurricanes do indeed predate the industrial age.

On the other hand, climatologists have suspected since the 1980s that increased concentrations of CO2 and other gases in our atmosphere from industrial-age human activities are increasing the planet's temperature at an abnormal rate, and that one of the first consequences of this would be more extreme weather events, including ocean-borne storms of unprecedented ferocity, and that the areas that will first be put at risk by these changes would be densely populated, low-lying coastal centres.

So New Orleans - which has been mentioned prominently in global-warming prognoses for years - is inundated by a hurricane of unprecedented intensity, and you think we shouldn't even examine the possibility that climate change contributed to the disaster? Let alone make note of the bald facts of the case - for example, that the Gulf of Mexico is warmer and higher than it's been since the founding of New Orleans, and this turned a Category 1 hurricane into the Category 5 that destroyed the city?
posted by gompa at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2005

1) Is global warming occurring?
2) If so, when did it start?
3) If so, what are the causal links to human activity?

No, these aren't the questions. The fact that CO2 and other gases cause retention of heat in the atmosphere is accepted science. (1) and (3) can effectively be combined to 'Are anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions causing global temperature increase/climate change?' (Extent also plays a role) The next questions are 'Can we stop it?' and 'How?', these two questions applying at both a technical and social/policy level. The IPCC say that the answer to my first question is 'YES'.
posted by biffa at 9:58 AM on September 9, 2005

The issue herein discussed is of course--as comments suggest--very complex. Here is a batch of links from an academic search engine that will provide a good deal of information, one way or the other, if you have some time to do the reading, researching:
global warming: click here
posted by Postroad at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2005

Also: In case not everyone reads the excellent article stbalbach linked to, here's the conclusion:

But ultimately the answer to what caused Katrina is of little practical value. Katrina is in the past. Far more important is learning something for the future, as this could help reduce the risk of further tragedies. Better protection against hurricanes will be an obvious discussion point over the coming months, to which as climatologists we are not particularly qualified to contribute. But climate science can help us understand how human actions influence climate. The current evidence strongly suggests that:

(a) hurricanes tend to become more destructive as ocean temperatures rise, and

(b) an unchecked rise in greenhouse gas concentrations will very likely increase ocean temperatures further, ultimately overwhelming any natural oscillations.

Scenarios for future global warming show tropical SST rising by a few degrees, not just tenths of a degree (see e.g. results from the Hadley Centre model and the implications for hurricanes shown in Fig. 1 above). That is the important message from science. What we need to discuss is not what caused Katrina, but the likelyhood that global warming will make hurricanes even worse in future.

posted by gompa at 10:18 AM on September 9, 2005

Hands of Manos: I share your frustration. I have been looking for an unbiased website to tell me whether I should vote Republican or Democrat for some time now.

Gompa: let's define "fine and rosey" and then define "couple of years" and then I'll take a piece of that action. I have never seen anybody eat sandals on the internet before. Seriously, come up with some terms.
posted by esquire at 10:46 AM on September 9, 2005

"fine and rosey" = global CO2 concentrations stabilize at current levels (let's use the 2002 reading + 10, which'd be 385 ppm) OR the IPCC announces that the earth is A-OK and no further action is required to mitigate the impact of global warming OR the world community determines that CO2 concentrations of 500 ppm create an ideal atmosphere for human life and abandons the Kyoto Protocol en masse.

"couple of years" = anytime between now and 31 December 2010.

Believe me, if we can somehow stabilize CO2 at 385 ppm by 2010, I'll be so giddily goddamn happy I'll eat a stack of Birkenstocks with glee and donate the pay-per-view proceeds to ExxonMobil or the George W. Bush Memorial Library (your pick).

And if you don't quite get why the ppm reading of CO2 in the earth's atmosphere is such a key indicator, well then that'd explain how you could be complacent enough to be willing to take some of this action. Meantime, happy hunting for an unbiased source that'll tell you all's fine and dandy. (Hint: If the source quotes "scientific" organizations that are funded in whole or in part by ExxonMobil, it's not unbiased.)
posted by gompa at 11:09 AM on September 9, 2005

Another interesting article about global warming and future weather: Bill McKibben (author of Enough), Sucker's Bets for the New Century. He suggests that we need to start getting ready for Katrina-intensity storms hitting coastal cities regularly. The economic and political disruption is going to be immense; natural catastrophes could do to societies in the 21st century what wars did in the 20th century.

A decade ago, environmental researcher Norman Myers began trying to add up the number of humans at risk of losing their homes from global warming. He looked at all the obvious places -- coastal China, India, Bangladesh, the tiny island states of the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Nile delta, Mozambique, on and on -- and predicted that by 2050 it was entirely possible that 150 million people could be "environmental refugees," forced from their homes by rising waters. That's more than the number of political refugees sent scurrying by the bloody century we've just endured.

Try to imagine, that is, the chaos that attends busing 15,000 people from one football stadium to another in the richest nation on Earth, and then multiply it by four orders of magnitude and re-situate your thoughts in the poorest nations on earth.

And then try to imagine doing it over and over again -- probably without the buses.


For the ten thousand years of human civilization, we've relied on the planet's basic physical stability. Sure, there have been hurricanes and droughts and volcanoes and tsunamis, but averaged out across the Earth, it's been a remarkably stable run. If your grandparents inhabited a particular island, chances were that you could too. If you could grow corn in your field, you could pretty much count on your grandkids being able to do likewise. Those are now sucker's bets -- that's what those predictions about environmental refugees really mean.

Here's another way of saying it: In the last century, we've seen change in human societies speed up to an almost unimaginable level, one that has stressed every part of our civilization. In this century, we're going to see the natural world change at the same kind of rate. That's what happens when you increase the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere. That extra energy expresses itself in every way you can imagine: more wind, more evaporation, more rain, more melt, more... more... more.

And there is no reason to think we can cope. Take New Orleans as an example. It is currently pro forma for politicians to announce that it will be rebuilt, and doubtless it will be. Once. But if hurricanes like Katrina go from once-in-a-century storms to once-in-a-decade-or-two storms, how many times are you going to rebuild it? Even in America there's not that kind of money -- especially if you're also having to cope with, say, the effects on agriculture of more frequent and severe heat waves, and the effects on human health of the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria, and so on ad infinitum. Not to mention the costs of converting our energy system to something less suicidal than fossil fuel, a task that becomes more expensive with every year that passes.

posted by russilwvong at 11:09 AM on September 9, 2005

Global Warming made Katrina more likely.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on September 9, 2005

Global Warming made Katrina more likely.

This is exactly correct. It also makes repeats of Katrina more likely in the future.

The most interesting thing however is that Katrina when it hit land was only a Category 4. There are bigger and badder hurricanes out there and these too are more likely to occur.
posted by aaronscool at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2005

...the more shrill doomsday scenarios we hear, no matter how good intentioned, the more people are likely to ignore evacuation warnings when something really is coming. And this site is nothing if it isn't shrill.

The shrillness probably comes from being ignored by cynics who will rationalize anything to avoid changing their behaviour. (not referring to you, btw).

Frankly it's pretty hard not to just stop caring after years of being supportive of environmentalist causes and realizing that even a catastophic event like Katrina is met with both cries of "prove it was caused by global warming!" and rumblings about God's hand...

If you've been paying attention, weather patterns everywhere in the world have been changing drastically over the last couple decades. For those who think this is all part of a cycle, perhaps they think that the rainforests will grow back in a few years too. Oh and all those extinctions, they're just cycles too. Why bother with science, the idiots don't pay attention anyway.

Yes, I do sound shrill, but fuck, people are aggravating. I remember back in the 90s thinking that by this time we'd all be on board, conserving, recycling, getting back to nature. Instead I'm surrounded by neo-cons who can seemingly justify anything so they can continue consuming like pigs.
posted by jimmy76 at 11:33 AM on September 9, 2005

Thanks stbalbach, excellent link.
posted by loquax at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2005

From that realclimate discussion:
There are good justifications for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but having an discernable influence on future hurricane dmaages is not among them.

[Response: Of course they are not the same. But you have to be clear that the two effects multiply - they do not just add up. Above (#73) you juxtapose a 32-fold increase in vulnerability due to population etc., to a non-discernible climate effect - say a 2-fold increase in hurricane power (roughly as seen in Fig. 2 of the post above), suggesting the latter thus must be unimportant. That's not the case. ... even though doubling sounds like a lot less than a 32-fold increase, ... even if the data are too noisy to prove the twofold increase statistically - you still have to pay this bill ... physical evidence, like our physical understanding of how CO2 affects SST and how SST affects hurricanes, gives you warning of the loaded dice long before you can prove it from the damage statistics.
posted by hank at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2005

IMO, from the very little research I've done (emphasize very little), The biggest question I have is as follows:

is there anyway to quantify the amount of co2 that humanity has created over the last 100 years? and if so, what percentage is that of the whole over the same period.

I think most who've not researched this issue believe that environmentalists speak in truths, when in fact, almost all of this is completely speculation. 1) Yes, humanity has produced noticeable amounts of co2 and other greenhouse gasses, 2) Yes, we have observed the localized effects of such pollution, 3) No, we have not had anyone step up and quantify once and for all what % of increase in co2 levels was caused by humanity, and what was caused by nature.

There are massive natural forces that give off huge volumes of co2 as part of a natural process. to quantify our part would be nearly impossible I agree. But before everyone blames industry for the worlds woes, I really think a few scientists need to stop measuring temperatures, and start doing some serious research on where the co2 and other gasses have originated.

Wouldn't it be ironic if we as a world pulled together to reduce co2 levels only to reduce them too far and cause another ice age? far fetched but not more so than an unquantified attempt to control something that may not need it.

*shrug* Like I said, I haven't researched it very much at all. That being said, before I trade in my v8 for a hybrid (other than for economic reasons), I want more proof than has been offered thus far. Showing temperatures rising, and gases rising is elementary. Showing why, and for quantified / verified reasons is completely different.

posted by DuffStone at 12:21 PM on September 9, 2005

Global Warming can be a deceptive name for the issue. The earth system is warming but that doesn't mean that our weather will be warmwe. It means that things will change: glaciers are melting and putting fresh water into the ocean. Since ice floats, this means that the water level will rise. It also means that the salinity of the ocean will change and that major ocean currents will change. These and the many other changes, that you can learn about from reading any of the scientific webiste links shown above, will happen in waves, getting worse, getting better, getting worse. It won;t ahppen all at once or linearly, or sadly, in any sort of rapid way as immediate punishment for driving your SUV. The weather will become more extreme: hotter and drier, and more severe blizzards. And they will become more the norm than the exception. Maybe you doubters will be old men before it's obvious to you.
posted by Red58 at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2005

I think most who've not researched this issue believe that environmentalists speak in truths, when in fact, almost all of this is completely speculation.

Referring to global warming as "completely speculation" shows a gross misunderstanding of science, and/or a lack of any worthwhile research.

It's not completely cut and dried, but the basic premises are all well understood, and have been well tested both in models and via the gathering of evidence. There are some legitimate questions, but the idea that failure to drive an H2 might cause an ice age is the dumbest thing I've read in a very long time.
posted by mosch at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2005

Duffstone: Well do some damn research! For a start, there is no "once and for all" in science, no 100% certainty, it is not based on faith but on reasoning, and as such is always willing to re-assess conclusions based on new information. How the hell can you conclude that this is speculation when you admit you've done no research? WTF??

Here's a crib sheet for ya, from the same site linked by stbalbach above:
How do we know that recent CO2 increases are due to human activities?

Over the last 150 years, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have risen from 280 to nearly 380 parts per million (ppm). The fact that this is due virtually entirely to human activities is so well established that one rarely sees it questioned. Yet it is quite reasonable to ask how we know this.


CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels or burning forests has quite a different isotopic composition from CO2 in the atmosphere. This is because plants have a preference for the lighter isotopes (12C vs. 13C); thus they have lower 13C/12C ratios. Since fossil fuels are ultimately derived from ancient plants, plants and fossil fuels all have roughly the same 13C/12C ratio – about 2% lower than that of the atmosphere. As CO2 from these materials is released into, and mixes with, the atmosphere, the average 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere decreases.


Sequences of annual tree rings going back thousands of years have now been analyzed for their 13C/12C ratios. Because the age of each ring is precisely known we can make a graph of the atmospheric 13C/12C ratio vs. time. What is found is at no time in the last 10,000 years are the 13C/12C ratios in the atmosphere as low as they are today. Furthermore, the 13C/12C ratios begin to decline dramatically just as the CO2 starts to increase -- around 1850 AD. This is exactly what we expect if the increased CO2 is in fact due to fossil fuel burning. Furthermore, we can trace the absorption of CO2 into the ocean by measuring the 13C/12C ratio of surface ocean waters. While the data are not as complete as the tree ring data (we have only been making these measurements for a few decades) we observe what is expected: the surface ocean 13C/12C is decreasing. Measurements of 13C/12C on corals and sponges -- whose carbonate shells reflect the ocean chemistry just as tree rings record the atmospheric chemistry -- show that this decline began about the same time as in the atmosphere; that is, when human CO2 production began to accelerate in earnest.

posted by dinsdale at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2005

DuffStone: I think most who've not researched this issue believe that environmentalists speak in truths, when in fact, almost all of this is completely speculation.
Wouldn't it be ironic if we as a world pulled together to reduce co2 levels only to reduce them too far and cause another ice age?

As someone who hasn't researched the issue, perhaps you shouldn't be speculating yourself. But keep driving your V8 in the hopes that it's averting an ice age.
posted by jimmy76 at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2005

By the way, here's the CO2 levels recorded at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, starting in 1958.

The warming effect of CO2 itself is accepted by everybody. It works pretty much like a greenhouse: it traps heat. The problem is that the rise in temperature can lead to some seriously unstable weather.

That being said, before I trade in my v8 for a hybrid (other than for economic reasons), I want more proof than has been offered thus far.

Considering the price of gas, economic self-interest might be enough! But if you want more info on global warming, I found Spencer Weart's supplementary website to The Discovery of Global Warming to be pretty useful in understanding it. See in particular the pages The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect and The Modern Temperature Trend .

Or you could check out Elizabeth Kolbert's three-part series in the New Yorker: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Of course the problem's so huge that understanding it may not be that helpful -- the question then becomes, well, what the hell are we supposed to do about it? Basically, we need to limit global carbon emissions. It's a policy problem. Paul Krugman has some suggestions.
posted by russilwvong at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2005

Of course the problem's so huge that understanding it may not be that helpful

If everybody understood the problem, I think it would help a lot. Even if people cut back their consumption only slightly it would make a big difference if everyone was on board. The blackout in 2003 showed the effect that industry has on air pollution. The environment basically bounced back, given the chance.

I for one, cannot separate my own behaviour from my knowledge of my impact on the earth - that is to say, I consume less because I think it's the right thing to do. If everyone did that, I think we'd be a lot better off. Unfortunately, a lot of people spend their time making excuses for wasteful, gluttonous behaviour.
posted by jimmy76 at 1:09 PM on September 9, 2005

There are massive natural forces that give off huge volumes of co2 as part of a natural process.

This is a common laypersons argument. If only things were that simple. It has to do with the way it is released and thus how long it remains in the atmosphere and thus how much warming it causes. Volcanoes are not the same as man-made emissions. There are also differences in the compounds.
posted by stbalbach at 1:09 PM on September 9, 2005

If everybody understood the problem, I think it would help a lot.

Agreed. This is why I never buy gas from Exxon.

I think I wasn't clear: I meant that for any one individual who's trying to understand the problem (like DuffStone), the scale of the problem is probably pretty overwhelming.
posted by russilwvong at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2005

the scale of the problem is probably pretty overwhelming.

Indeed, which is why it's so tempting to throw your hands up in the air and say there's nothing you can do about it. Or argue minor points about the science. What is really overwhelming is the cognitive dissonance that average westerners have to endure if they feign even the slightest interest in the preservation of the planet. As an example, "how can I say I care about the earth, when I drive a car?"

I think we need to start injecting environmentalist values into every aspect of life, until people start to get it. Every type of consumption has consequences, so every reduction helps. Once you accept that as fact, it becomes ridiculous to imagine driving around town in an H2.
posted by jimmy76 at 2:19 PM on September 9, 2005

The link to real climate.org, posted above by stalbach should be bookmarked by anyone with more than a passing interest in climate issues.

As far as the relationship between anthropogenic global warming and tropical cyclone intensity goes, much attention has been drawn to the paper
by Kerry Emmanuel published in Nature that shows a strong uptick in hurricane intensity (or rather a measure of intergrated energy dissipation by tropical cyclones) very recently and a correlation with this parameter with sea surface temperatures. The last is used to buttress the argument that anthropogenic global warming, through increased SSTs will lead to more intense hurricanes. However you might want to read Emmanuel's own take on this question, posted as a truly excellent and nuanced FAQ and position paper here.
posted by bumpkin at 3:03 PM on September 9, 2005

Thanks for the link to the Emmanuel FAQ, bumpkin. Corrected link.

If I understand correctly, Emmanuel is saying that we can expect more hurricane damage in the US -- but it's not because of global warming, it's because of increasing coastal populations.
posted by russilwvong at 3:46 PM on September 9, 2005

No, Emmanuel is saying intensity's increased 70 percent -- documented. The statistical base base of numbers for intensity is sufficient to show a trend.

Population at landfall and damage -- too few numbers for damage -- way too little to analyze to show any trend.

We know the oceans are warmer; hurricane intensity depends on ocean temperature. Hurricane prediction (that's the current week for the hurricane source in the Atlantic) uses ocean temperature.

More here:
Climate Instability and Public Health - Paul R. Epstein
Powerpoint) "... Tropical oceans are warmer & saltier..."

Emmanuel says:

1) the strength of hurricanes has gone up dramatically -- we have all the data on all the hurricanes worldwide over some decades, sufficient for statistics to show a trend;

2) So few hurricanes hit the US that it will take another 50 years of data to have enough to show any such trend.

Quoting from Emmanuel:

The energy released by the average hurricane (again considering all hurricanes worldwide) seems to have increased by around 70% in the past 30 years or so, corresponding to about a 15% increase in the maximum wind speed and a 60% increase in storm lifetime.....When this increase in population and wealth is accounted for, there is no discernible trend left in the hurricane damage data .... in spite of the increase in global hurricane power. The reason is a simple matter of statistics: There are far too few hurricane landfalls to be able to discern any trend.... Data on U.S. landfalling storms is only about 2 tenths of one percent of data we have on global hurricanes ... we can already detect trends in data for global hurricane activity considering the whole life of each storm, we estimate that it would take at least another 50 years to detect any long-term trend in U.S. landfalling hurricane statistics, so powerful is the role of chance in these numbers.

posted by hank at 8:09 PM on September 9, 2005

Hank, I don't think there's any difference between what I said and what you're saying. Quoting Emmanuel:

There is a huge upward trend in hurricane damage in the U.S., but all or almost all of this is due to increasing coastal population and building in hurricane-prone areas.

Hurricanes are getting more intense because of global warming; but they hit the US too infrequently for them to be causing increasing damage.
posted by russilwvong at 10:59 PM on September 9, 2005

To me, the question is whether our fossil fuels will peak before the global warming trend becomes catastrophically unreversible.

As a pessimist, I predict they won't -- they'll last long enough to make things tough on us. In 50 years, what we'll see is an earth with a lot more severe weather, and human populations that have a lot more difficulty dealing with it because the energy crunch will make it costly to undertake rescue, cleanup, and rebuilding operations.
posted by moonbiter at 6:22 AM on September 10, 2005

To clarify a few things about my post. #1) I wasn't trying to infer that science works in absolutes. Obviously I know better I figured it would be implied that I did. #2) yeah, I know my vehicle of choice makes very little difference and won't cause any ice ages...

I think a few managed to understand my position and offered up some great material. Having lived and farmed for most of my life (I'm not a farmer, but I do have a farming family), I understand a lot of about localized nature and such. For instance, burning wheat stubble in the early summer makes for the best lightning shows ever, it also causes some really nasty rain if the timing is right.

I just have a hard time seeing my microcosmic experiences as a natural observer (not a science student) on a global scale. especially given the variations that occur within our own local areas. thinking of those variations on a global scale just seems way to hard to quantify to me.

*shrug* eh... No face to save here, I don't intend to become a know-it-all. I work in the petroleum industry, and sift through rhetoric every day. I grew up a farm boy and know first hand how the localized environment works. It sucks being in the middle sometimes but it's always an adventure.

BTW, as to supplies and whether or not the environment can outlast remaining reserves of petro. It's not so much an issues of supplies. Supposedly, there are enough hydrocarbons left to last 200 or more years even with escalating demands. Problem is, the cost of retrieving them. It won't be lack of supplies that spurs alternative fuels on, it will be the market. But this is a whole different discussion...

posted by DuffStone at 7:00 AM on September 13, 2005

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