hurricanes

Thu, 2013-03-14 11:28Ben Jervey
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Climate Disruption Tax Costs Americans Billions

Here’s a term that bears repeating: climate disruption tax. What is a climate disruption tax? It’s the cost to the American taxpayer of dealing with the impacts of climate-related weather events, as introduced by NRDC’s Dan Lashof and Andy Stevenson.  

The concept of a climate disruption tax is actually hugely important. Why? Because climate change is costing us more than trying to avoid climate change ever would, but unfortunately, this troubling little bit of economics is somehow constantly overlooked in the climate debates. We always hear about how much it will cost to transition away from fossil fuels and to slow deforestation. But the costs of inaction rarely stick in the discussion.

It’s not for lack of research or knowledge, nor for lack of bloggers bringing it up. Over the past few years, a range of voices have weighed in with warnings from all across the socioeconomic and ideological spectra. If not quite first, but foremost, the master economist Sir Nicholas Stern sounded the alarm, only to recently double down on his dire predictions.

Then there are the massive insurers and even more massive reinsurers like Munich Re and Swiss Re. There are the , of course. There are NGOs and think tanks like DARA with a cold, hard economic calculus in their Climate Vulnerability Monitor. There are academics.There’s the U.S. government itself warning of the severe costs of unmitigated climate change.

These studies and reports are written about, blogged, tweeted, and sometimes cited, but they haven’t managed to nudge their way into the mainstream climate conversation. The costs often seem too far off, too theoretical–a problem for another time.

Which is why any clever new way of framing climate-related costs should be celebrated and spread far and why. Over on Switchboard, Lashof and Stevenson are onto something.

Say it with me again: Climate Disruption Tax.

Wed, 2012-05-23 09:42Chris Mooney
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The Meaning of Tropical Storm Alberto--and a 2012 Hurricane Rap Session

Uh oh. Hurricane season has started early.

On Saturday (the 19th), when Tropical Storm Alberto spun up off the Carolina coast, forecaster Brennan of the National Hurricane Center had this to say:

ALBERTO IS EARLIEST-FORMING TROPICAL STORM IN THE ATLANTIC BASIN SINCE ANA IN 2003.  THIS IS ALSO THE FIRST TIME THAT A TROPICAL STORM HAS FORMED BEFORE THE OFFICIAL START OF THE HURRICANE SEASON IN BOTH THE ATLANTIC AND EAST PACIFIC BASINS.

2003 was a busy season; and following on the record heat of March, a strong hurricane season wouldn’t be so very surprising. Or would it?

The truth is that heat isn’t the only thing that influences hurricanes, and this year, the pre-season hurricane forecasts are sort of all over the place. Some are predicting an above-average season, some a below average season; it all seems to centrally depend on whether or not El Nino kicks in. This global weather pattern tends to suppress hurricanes in the Atlantic, though it can be rocket fuel for them in the Pacific.

The current El Nino forecast, from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, says we’re in what are called “ENSO neutral” conditions and those are expected to persist through summer. After that, it’s fifty-fifty whether we’ve got El Nino or a continuance of neutral conditions.

So far, NOAA has not yet released its much anticipated May 2012 Atlantic hurricane forecast, which hopefully will make more sense of this and other variables. I’d expect that any day now.

Thu, 2011-08-25 07:31Chris Mooney
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Hurricane Irene, Climate Change, and the Need to Consider Worst Case Scenarios

In May of 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina, I wrote an article that nobody noticed. It was entitled “Thinking Big About Hurricanes: It’s Time to Get Serious About Saving New Orleans.” In it, I talked about how devastating a strong hurricane landfall could be to my home city:

In the event of a slow-moving Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane (with winds up to or exceeding 155 miles per hour), it’s possible that only those crow’s nests [of lakefront houses] would remain above the water level. Such a storm, plowing over the lake, could generate a 20-foot surge that would easily overwhelm the levees of New Orleans, which only protect against a hybrid Category 2 or Category 3 storm (with winds up to about 110 miles per hour and a storm surge up to 12 feet). Soon the geographical “bowl” of the Crescent City would fill up with the waters of the lake, leaving those unable to evacuate with little option but to cluster on rooftops—terrain they would have to share with hungry rats, fire ants, nutria, snakes, and perhaps alligators. The water itself would become a festering stew of sewage, gasoline, refinery chemicals, and debris.

Afterwards, the article was passed around furiously and I was hailed for having some sort of deep insight. I didn’t: The danger was staggeringly obvious and I was only channeling what many experts at the time knew.

Mon, 2011-08-08 08:33Chris Mooney
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Here Comes the Atlantic Hurricane Season

gulf of mexico sea surface temperatures

This has been a year of dramatic disasters and weather extremes. From tornadoes to droughts to heat waves, the U.S. has been battered.

Unfortunately, the hurricane season that’s about to get firing may not go any easier on us.

Nobody can say in advance where storms are form to strike or whether they are going to make landfall—but everything is lining up for there to be a lot of them in the Atlantic region, and some very strong ones. As you can see from the figure here, we’re just starting the climb towards the peak of the season, which occurs on September 10.

Sea surface temperatures in the main development region for Atlantic hurricanes (pictured above for the Gulf) are the third hottest they’ve been on record. Everything is lining up for there to be a lot of action: 9-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major ones, NOAA predicts. There have already been 5 tropical storms, but that’s child’s play compared with what’s likely coming.

Fri, 2009-01-16 12:40Sheril Kirshenbaum
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The American Meteorological Society Awards Chris Mooney For Storm World

Our own Chris Mooney was honored this week at the 89th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society. He won the 2009 Louis J. Battan Author’s Award for Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming, dubbed “an accurate and comprehensive overview of the evolving debate on the impacts of global warming on hurricanes that illustrates the complexities of this significant scientific problem.” It’s a compelling book that successfully provides an interesting and honest account of the history of storms and climate science, while taking a serious looks at the players and politics involved.

Mooney is a regular commentator at DeSmogBlog, contributing editor to Science Progress, and senior correspondent for The American Prospect magazine. He has authored three books, New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science, Storm World, and forthcoming Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future. A founding member of ScienceDebate, he also writes for a variety of news and scientific magazines and blogs at The Intersection.

Congratulations Chris!

Tue, 2008-09-09 13:34Ross Gelbspan
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Warmer Surface Waters Trigger More Destructive Hurricanes

While there is no apparent connection between warming and an increase in the number of hurricanes, there is a growing literature – including some half-dozen peer-reviewed studies – which find that warmer surface waters generate more powerful and destructive hurricanes. 

Tropical Storms 50 Percent More Intense since 1970s

Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment   


Tue, 2007-11-20 10:14Chris Mooney
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Bangladesh: Devastating Present, Worse Future?

It is certainly only coincidence that two recent events–the deadly Category 4 landfall of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh and the release of the UN IPCC's 2007 synthesis report–have so closely coincided.

But if we take them together–the story of pain and grief in a low-lying region on the one hand; the careful words of scientists on the other–it seems impossible not to attempt a still grander synthesis.

Mon, 2007-07-30 10:56Emily Murgatroyd
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Hurricanes on the Rise?

A new study published by Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology has found that the number of hurricanes in the past 100 years has doubled. Altered wind patterns and rising surface sea temperatures (SST's) caused by global warming are the culprits. The team studied hurricane frequency from 1900 to 2005 and found 3 distinct periods in which hurricane activity increased sharply and then stabilized.

Debate does exist however…

Fri, 2007-07-27 07:38Richard Littlemore
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Nicely Balanced Look at Hurricane Influence

Here's a short Wired piece adding some balance to an earlier Wall Street Journal article that dismisses climate change as an influencer of hurricane intensity.

The WSJ piece is also worth the read. It's interesting to see Bill (if-I-haven't-observed-it-with-my-own-eyes, -it's-not-happening) Gray tie himself up in knots, predicting more hurricanes of higher intensity but denying that climate change could be a contributing factor.

Wed, 2006-09-27 08:53Ross Gelbspan
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Bush Administration Is Turning Gagging From Tactic to Policy

Researchers are charging the Bush Administration with yet again muzzling their scientific findings regarding climate change.

In this case, a scientist at NOAA claims the agency has gagged his attempts to expalin connections between global warming and hurricane intensity.

 

 

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