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Thursday, January 19, 2006


Maybe BET should stick to the Entertainment in their name, because when they dabble in science/meteorology, well, they don’t do very well.  They have an article up, that really shouldn’t surprise me, heck, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it in the New York Times, except for the writing style, which must be an attempt to be “with it” or some such, and ends up being, well, a tad condescending.  It starts out:

“If you thought Hurricane Katrina was a once-in-a-lifetime fluke, think again.  Concerned environmentalists say that unless the United States gets real about the threat of global warming, African Americans and other people of color can expect a repeat of disasters like Katrina.”

“When you look at the trends and put them all together, it’s undisputable that the sea levels are rising,” says Ansje Miller, director of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC).  “Warmer seas mean more intense hurricanes….  You’re going to have intense flooding like we have never seen before.  Katrina is really the hurricane of the future.”

Me:  Right…  When she says “sea levels are rising” she leaves out that even if they are, we’re talking about centimeters per decade here, not exactly “Day After Tomorrow” stuff.  As for warmer waters meaning more intense hurricanes, well, they do, to a point.  Once I find the article on that, which is from a source a little more reputable, I’ll try to post it.  The article continues:

“That’s bad news, especially for African Americans.  Citing Katrina as a case-in-point, some environmentalists say global warming impacts minorities and the disadvantaged harder than other groups.  If global warming gets worse, many African-American communities will be more vulnerable to breathing ailments, insect-carried diseases and heat-related illness and death.  But asking Black folks to give up gas-guzzling SUV’s and other bling is a tough sell.”

More scare mongering, just what the environmental debate needs.  Can I remind you about what really happened?  Look, natural disasters pretty much suck, but you can’t blame everything on climate change (as some did with the SE Asian tsunami a little over a year ago, which was a patently false claim), and you can’t tie everything to race, lest you insult everyone’s intelligence.    Oh, and the title was from a Family Guy episode.

UPDATE: Ok, without diving into the scientific literature, which, for those of you who haven’t, can make reading cases seem like a walk in the park, I found this (thanks to Lexis), from Patrick J. Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at UVA:

    Yet still we hear that warmer oceans mean that storms will become more ferocious. We shouldn't. One of the peculiarities of hurricane behavior is that there is a threshold, at 28degreesC, where storms reach an intensity of Category 3 ("severe"). (In the last 50 years there have been just two such storms over cooler waters.) But once the temperature exceeds 28degreesC, there is no relationship between warmer water and intensity. At any temperature above the threshold, each storm has an equal chance of reaching Category 4 or 5.Every August, the surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico exceeds that threshold. This year it was very warm south of Louisiana: 31degreesC -- about as hot as it was in 1997 and 1998. And, given that the Gulf reaches the magic 28degreesC threshold every year, no matter whether the planet is warming or cooling, there is no practicable, economical policy that can ever drive temperatures below this figure.I don't expect this information to have any effect on policy. I'm just shouting into the hurricane.

This was published in a longer article in the October 10, 2005, National Review (no wonder I had read it), entitled “The Global-Warming God - Must it now be appeased?”  so if you have Lexis you can pull up the whole thing (I should be getting paid for this).  I know, I know, I’m being biased in my choice of evidence, but well, too bad.  I doubt the EJCC had even considered much beyond the “conventional wisdom.”


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