News Stories

Why Hurricane Season is Here to Stay

Scientists at M.I.T. have clearly linked the increase in hurricane activity to global warming and global warming to "pollution released by humans." And what's the state of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans? It's still sinking. The Army Corps of Engineers has finally admitted that the levees that were supposed to protect it were defective.

Ker Than writes in LiveScience.com that climatologist Kerry Emanuel will soon publish a paper that shows how global warming is responsible for the increasingly stronger Atlantic Ocean hurricanes we've experienced in the past few decades, but he's made an even more courageous statement in this paper, where he says that the key to global warming is human pollution, in the form of greenhouse gases.

Emanuel has been working with Michael Mann, of Penn State. Together, they have come to the conclusion that ironically, microscopic aerosol particles, which reflect sunlight and cool the atmosphere, have been masking the effect of global warming?and therefore on hurricanes?for years. Now that aerosol emissions have declined, due to new clean air standards, the impact of greenhouse gases is clear. However, the solution to global warming is NOT to increase airborne particles, since these can kill when they lodge in the blood vessels and lungs.

Also in LiveScience.com, Seth Borenstein reports on the state of hurricane-hit New Orleans. It turns out that parts of the city are sinking even faster than scientists once thought, which may help explain some of the levee failures. Here at unknowncountry.com, we reported this 3 years ago.

The data comes from NASA satellites, which regularly took images of New Orleans (and the rest of the US) in the three years before Katrina hit. Geophysicist Tim Dixon says, "My concern is the very low-lying areas. I think those areas are death traps. I don't think those areas should be rebuilt.''

Ralph Vartabedian writes in the June 2nd Los Angeles Times that the Army Corps of Engineers has admitted that there were basic design defects in the levees that were supposed to protect New Orleans from hurricanes. The Corps released a 6,000-page report showing that that four major breaches of I-walls, concrete storm walls that sit on top of earthen mounds, or levees, caused 65% of the flooding in the New Orleans area.

The question is not so much whether there was a design defect, in that the levees were not strong enough to withstand modern hurricane activity caused by global warming?this much has been admitted by the administration. The real question is: WHEN did the administration first discover this AND did their early denial of global warming cause them to neglect fixing the problem?

Sadly, in the future, the grand city of New Orleans may be much less than it once was.

Art credit: NOAA

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