Hurricane of Misinformation

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Hurricane of Misinformation
    By S. T. Karnick, Tech Central Station
    9/01/2005

    One of the major techniques of modern politics is to take every important event and tie it to the back of one's own particular hobby horse. One of the more ludicrous examples was the utterly absurd claims that the Asian tsunami was caused by global warming. But it happened.

    Hence it was inevitable that even before Hurricane Katrina left the Gulf Coast we would begin to see articles claiming that human-caused global warming is creating more and increasingly disastrous hurricanes. The online edition of Time magazine ran a story titled, "Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?" on the very day the storm hit the shore. Although the article acknowledges the widely documented (and hence undeniable) fact that the number of tropical storms around the world has not risen lately, the author claims that "the storms do appear to be more intense," and named global warming as the likely cause.

    The Boston Globe printed an op-ed by Ross Gelbspan, "Hurricane Katrina's Real Name." Gelbspan, as one could easily predict, claims that the real name for this hurricane is "global warming," and goes on to assert that global warming has caused every unusual weather phenomenon of recent years. Examples include last winter's snowfall in Los Angeles, high winds in Scandinavia, a drought in the American Midwest earlier this summer, droughts in Western Europe, a heat wave in Arizona (boy, that's a shocker!), a flood in India, an especially cold winter in Boston (another shocker), and numerous others.

    Gelbspan's tactic, now all too familiar, is simply to name as many instances of bad weather as his word count will allow, and then claim that global warming caused them. He makes no attempt to prove that the number of dangerous weather events has actually risen. As to actual evidence linking global warming to these phenomenon, Gelbspan provides absolutely none at all. He just takes it as a premise.

    "Brace for more Katrinas, say experts," a story released by the French news agency AFP, went into more detail on the matter. The anonymous author of the story correctly observes that hurricane activity has intensified and looks likely to remain so for a while:

    "Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Risk, a London-based consortium of experts, predicted that the region would see 22 tropical storms during the six-month June-November season, the most ever recorded and more than twice the average annual tally since records began in 1851."

    The piece also notes, "Already, 2004 and 2003 were exceptional years: they marked the highest two-year totals ever recorded for overall hurricane activity in the North Atlantic."

    That is all quite true. But what does it mean? The article moves on to consider a possible relationship to global warming, as has been posited by advocates of controls over greenhouse gas emissions:

    "This increase has also coincided with a big rise in Earth's surface temperature in recent years, driven by greenhouse gases that cause the Sun's heat to be stored in the sea, land and air rather than radiate back out to space."

    The characterization of the rise in the planet's surface temperature in recent years as "big" is certainly an exaggeration. However, the article does go on to point out that hurricane activity is cyclical and probably always has been:

    "But experts are cautious, also noting that hurricane numbers seem to undergo swings, over decades.

    "About 90 tropical storms -- a term that includes hurricanes and their Asian counterparts, typhoons -- occur each year.

    "The global total seems to be stable, although regional tallies vary a lot, and in particular seem to be influenced by the El Nino weather pattern in the Western Pacific."

    These are very important observations. The article then outlines, at some length, the arguments of global-warming advocates who claim that the earth's warming is creating more intense hurricanes, if not more such storms overall (which is easy to measure and is not supported by the evidence, as the article admits):

    "On the other hand, more and more scientists estimate that global warming, while not necessarily making hurricanes more frequent or likelier to make landfall, is making them more vicious."

    The evidence the article adduces for this argument is coincidental and not causal, however, and is clearly highly speculative at this point. The piece says, for example, "'The intensity of and rainfalls from hurricanes are probably increasing, even if this increase cannot yet be proven with a formal statistical test,' Trenberth wrote in the US journal Science in June. He said computer models 'suggest a shift' toward the extreme in hurricane intensities." That is to say, Trenberth believes it although there is no statistical evidence for it.

    The article ends on that note, which is a pity because there is a good deal more to the story than that. Readers are not told, for example, that as an article in the forthcoming October issue of Environment and Climate News (ECN) mentions, a group of prominent climatologists and other experts on climate change has noted, "according to a century of National Hurricane Center reports, the decade with the largest number of hurricanes to come ashore in the United States was the 1940s, and that hurricane frequency has declined since then. They also cited data from the United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Association that hurricane frequency has declined since the 1940s."

    for full article: http://www.techcentralstation.com/090105A.html
     
  2. sagegirl
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    sagegirl Member

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    While I agree with the idea that there is no way to prove that global warming is/was responsible for Katrina I dont think that arguement discredits the real warning signs of global warming and our part if any in the process. The process is too random and we dont have adequate records to accurately predict global climate changes. What we do know is that the climate has changed in the past, drastically, ice ages, and droughts and everywhere in between.........we are trying to figure out just what it is doing now and how we are affecting it.....our "activity" has to be calculated in, for any hope of a realistic prediction. The evidence now is that we are entering a warming cycle, the danger being that if the balance of our thin atmosphere gets a "boost" out of the ordinary because of our pollution, that a greenhouse effect may be generated that could cook us, or simmer us. The need for scientific monitoring of a number of critical areas, without political and industrial biases, will help us understand what we can do to protect our enviornment, which is to everyones ultimate benefit.
     
  3. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    Yeah, I guess the idea that the Earth is just getting hotter as it gets older is a completely dismissable topic. Let's blame it on our favorite environmental peeve.
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    You know, I kinda figure, man-at least as 'we' know him, didn't create this bubble we call earth. My guess, since there is 'scientific' data proving all the 'ages' you refer to, man is unlikely to end 'life' on earth. In most likely outcome, man will perish, earth will go on.

    Man has screwed up, man has tried to fix. My totally unscientific opinion on global warming, it may or may not be man made. It may or may not be temporary. It may or may not exist. Kind of reminds me of the ozone holes that were so popular awhile back.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't be stewards of the environment, but not at the beck and call of every whacko. God help the Gulf if now draining the waters from the hurricane, might endanger a regulated species of plant or animal.
     
  5. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    You can blame the weather on whatever you deem worthy. Back in the late 50's when the weather began to change, space exploration was the culprit. Well, space exploration is still going on and the weather is still changing, so I guess those people who blamed the changed weather on the space program were right?????
     
  6. Nienna
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    Nienna Senior Member

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    Am I missing something? Can someone please explain how global WARMING can cause extreme or unexpected cold and snow?
     

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