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Frightening Acceleration of Hurricane Gustav and Immensity of Hurricane Ike Point to Future in the Age of Global Warming

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:21am

Giant Wind Storm Incubators

Everyone can be grateful that Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike left in their wake a death toll well below that of Hurricane Katrina. However, the similarities remain quite destructive. Hurricane Gustav gave us widespread flooding, displaced more than 1 million people and left more than 2 million homes without electrical service for weeks. At its worst, Hurricane Ike covered an area roughly equal in size to the unified nation of Germany and erased entire towns along the Texas coast rendering more than 100,000 people permanently homeless.

As regards global warming, Gustav’s acceleration from a relatively weak storm to a powerhouse category 4 hurricane in under 3 days’ time points us back to the contemporary effects of abnormally high water temperatures. Hurricane Ike approached the Caribbean Basin as a strong storm before raining down death and destruction on Hispaniola and Cuba. When it was done killing islanders, it took its dear, sweet time gathering ferocity on its way to shred Galveston and immerse Houston.

I have written about Katrina’s record acceleration. Frightening as it was, the record was broken just 2 years later by Hurricane Felix. Then, Gustav came along and nearly entered itself in the record books. When Gustav failed to break the record, residents of the Gulf Coast region of the United States breathed a sigh of relief. It lasted just a few days, though, because in crossing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Ike went from a category 1 to a category 4 in just 6 hours – 6 hours!

To global warming skeptics, I ask: how can you explain away these statistics? Atlantic hurricanes form in 2 two general ways:

1) When prevailing winds of central Africa meet the ocean; and

2) When tropical waves spawned by equatorial wind patterns are nourished by the recycling currents of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Hence, if the prevailing winds of Africa accelerated because of deforestation and desertification (both of which are ameliorated by a proper response to global warming), how can we ignore the effects on North America?

If the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico contain large dead zones because of skewed temperature cycles and atmospheric wind patterns which have shifted because of high carbon content, how can we ignore either the consequences or our responsibility?

The bottom line is this: everyone benefits from fighting global warming, even energy companies because winning the battle requires innovation. When humanity innovates, there are ancillary benefits. So, if you doubt the existence of global warming or the fact that human behavior is the main cause, you still can climb aboard the Remediation Express and help millions of people who live in coastal areas fret a little less often about the frequency of killer hurricanes.

Fomenting the Triple Bottom Line

Corbett Kroehler


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