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US denies hurricane link with climate change

US denies hurricane link with climate change

US denies hurricane link with climate change
Rhett A. Butler,
December 1, 2005

Harlan Watson, chief climate control negotiator for the U.S. State Department, told the Associated Press that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather — including the hurricanes that thrashed the Gulf earlier this year.

“There’s a difference between climate and extreme weather,” Watson said. “Our scientists continually tell us we cannot blame any single extreme event, attribute that to climate change.”

Scientists disagree. Mounting research suggests that there is indeed a correlation between warmer climate and the intensity of storms. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season — highlighted by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma — was the worst on record and extends the active hurricane cycle that began in 1995 according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA says calls the upswing in hurricanes “a trend likely to continue for years to come.” The 2005 season included 26 named storms, including 13 hurricanes in which seven were major (Category 3 or higher).

Other research linking climate change to storm intensity has been released since this summer.

    (top) Major hurricanes hitting the United States, listed by decade 1851-2005.
    (bottom) The instrumental temperature record since 1850. The instrumental temperature record shows the fluctuations of the temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans since the invention of thermometers. A quasi-global record exists since about 1850. Image courtesy of “Dragons flight” at

The United States, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other polluting gases, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a reduction in greenhouse gases by 1990 levels by 2012. The American government says the agreement would harm the U.S. economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil.

Number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has doubled over 35 years:
The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped since the 1990s, according to a study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The shift occurred as global sea surface temperatures have increased over the same period. The research appears in the September 16 issue of Science

Hurricanes getting stronger due to global warming says study:
Late last month an atmospheric scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a study in Nature that found hurricanes have grown significantly more powerful and destructive over the past three decades. Kerry Emanuel, the author of the study, warns that since hurricanes depend on warm water to form and build, global climate change might increase the effect of hurricanes still further in coming years.

Hurricane Katrina damage just a dose of what’s to come:
The kind of devastation seen on the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina may be a small taste of what is to come if emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2 ) are not diminished soon, warns Dr. Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology in his opening remarks at the 7th International Carbon Dioxide Conference in Boulder, Colorado, September 26, 2005.

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