I am not an expert on much of anything – although I often play one in this corner on Saturday mornings. I have often pretended to be an expert at geology, economics, sociology, history and biology. I’ve even taken a swipe or two at meteorology. And I feel that I must wear that last hat again. Certainly, I don’t have the credentials of a real meteorologist, like Pocatello’s Scott Stevens, who caught the Japanese red-handed as they tried to destroy the United States with Russian made hurricane generators. Neither have I been sleeping at the Holiday Inn. Instead, I have been listening to such crackpots as Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University, whose annual tropical forecasts are famous for their accuracy, and Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center.
Both of these guys were once pretty smart. As recently as a month ago, Max Mayfield was one of the smartest people in the world because he warned George Bush that Katrina was going to be a devastating hurricane at landfall. Well before the summer’s first swirl of tropical thunderstorms, William Gray predicts the number and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes with startling precision. But, of late, they’ve both been suffering from serious cases of IQ decline. Neither says what the press wants to hear, so the press has gone in search of someone who will serve as its echo chamber.
What they want to hear is that, because
George W. Bush has not embraced the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, hurricanes are increasing in frequency and ferocity. Neither Gray nor Mayfield agree. The formerly brilliant Mayfield was all over Sunday morning talking head programs last weekend pronouncing bunk upon those who claimed that this year’s hurricanes were caused by global warming. We were simply passing through a decades-long period
of increased tropical activity, something the world has experienced before
. This cycle is independent of global warming.
Now if hurricanes swept off ice fields, glaciers and pack ice I might seek Dr. Maynard Miller’s expertise on tropical storms. He directs the Glaciological and Arctic Sciences Institute
. Recently returned from a trip to that notorious hurricane spawning ground, the Juneau Ice Field, Dr. Miller was prompted by a cub reporter to opine that, “My suspicion is that with Katrina itself, very likely the scale was tipped on getting it started as a major, major hurricane by global warming.”
After stating that one shouldn’t jump too quickly to draw the inference he just drew, he dismissed those who disagree as, “probably playing politics.”
This paper noted that: “Hurricanes the intensity of Katrina and Rita have never occurred in the same hurricane season, let alone within a month of each other.”
Bunk. In 1961, both “Carla" and "Hattie,” category 5 storms, formed in the Atlantic basin. The previous year, category 4 hurricanes “Donna” and “Ethel” formed within 9 days of each other. Katrina and Rita both made landfall this year as category 4 storms.
The uncomfortable fact remains that, had George Bush done what Bill Clinton and Al Gore never even attempted, which is get Senate ratification of the treaty, it would not have affected anything. If every signatory to the treaty suddenly adhered to its provisions assiduously, New Orleans would still be submerged.
Without the treaty, global temperatures are predicted to rise by about 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Under the Kyoto Protocols, the atmosphere will rise 2.86 degrees.
If George Bush had strictly adhered to the letter of Kyoto from the first day of his administration, according to the mathematical formulas accepted by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Earth would be about one ten thousandths of a degree cooler than it is today.
As for Katrina and Rita, both achieved their power through an incredible coincidence of bad luck. An entirely natural warm current
called a loop current
swerved directly into the path of both storms, supplying them the fuel that fed their fury. Had the loop current meandered a little further south, or had either hurricane taken a slightly different path, neither could have fed off the warm waters and neither would have amounted to anything of historic or political consequence.
Once again, we have the press, with a preformed conclusion, running about seeking the endorsement of a credentialed expert, even if his expertise is in ice, rather than fire.