Friday, September 2, 2005

Playing Politics With Tragedy

PowerLine is one good place to go for sanity in the midst of the criticism of the federal government for a seemingly slow response to the needs of the hurricane victims. Whatever blame is merited for the problems being experienced there must be shouldered by the local and state government whose responsibility it is to provide the planning and resources for the immediate aftermath of a disaster. The attempt to blame Bush for the delay in the delivery of rescue, security, food and shelter is driven not by any objective facts on the ground but purely by the desire to gain political advantage. It's shameful.

Yahoo has a photo of a school bus parking lot filled with school buses up to their axles in water. While New Orleans' mayor Ray Nagin rants about the need for buses to move people and the lack of state and federal help these school buses were sitting in the lot since before the storm.

Michelle Malkin also has some good stuff on events in the Gulf region.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the recovery effort can do so at the Red Cross site here.

Not Playing Fair

Perhaps it is becuse Jim Glassman is a white, middle-aged male that he seems to have an inordinate affinity for basing conclusions on facts rather than feelings. This is not a welcome trait among post-modern ideologues, and no doubt many such will be thrown into a snarl by this essay by Glassman at Tech Central Station. In it Glassman unfashionably and unconscionably introduces a few scientific facts into the debate among lefties over whether Katrina was the result mostly of purely natural geophysical forces with some input by George Bush, or whether it can be, as many on the left suspect, laid entirely at the feet of Bush and his anti-environmental cronies. The facts adduced by Glassman make the enviro-loonies look even more looney than usual.

He writes:

...the response of environmental extremists fills me with what only can be called disgust. They have decided to exploit the death and devastation to win support for the failed Kyoto Protocol, which requires massive cutbacks in energy use to reduce, by a few tenths of a degree, surface warming projected 100 years from now. (Emphasis mine)

Katrina has nothing to do with global warming. Nothing. It has everything to do with the immense forces of nature that have been unleashed many, many times before and the inability of humans, even the most brilliant engineers, to tame these forces.

Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per decade. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.

But that doesn't stop an enviro-predator like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from writing on the Huffingtonpost website: "Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which [Haley] Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and - now -- Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children."

Or consider Jurgen Tritten, Germany's environmental minister, in an op-ed in the Frankfurter Rundschau. He wrote (according to a translation prepared for me): "By neglecting environmental protection, America's president shuts his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes like Katrina inflict on his country and the world's economy."

The bright side of Katrina, concludes Tritten, is that it will force President Bush to face facts. "When reason finally pays a visit to climate-polluter headquarters, the international community has to be prepared to hand America a worked-out proposal for the future of international climate protection."

He goes on, "There is only one possible route of action. Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced, and it has to happen worldwide." In other words, thanks to Katrina, we'll finally get Kyoto enforced. (He might start at home, by the way. Europe is not anywhere close to reducing carbon dioxide to Kyoto standards. In fact, the U.S. is doing much better than many Kyoto ratifiers.)

Ross Gelbspan, in a particularly egregious, almost giddy piece in the Boston Globe that was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, wrote that the hurricane was "nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service Katrina, [but] its real name was global warming." He also finds global warming responsible for droughts in the Midwest, strong winds in Scandinavia and heavy rain in Dubai. The reason for all this devastation, of course, is that the Bush Administration is controlled by coal and oil interests.

And the Independent, a widely read British newspaper, reported today that "Sir David King, the British Government's chief scientific adviser, has warned that global warming may be responsible for the devastation reaped by Hurricane Katrina." King contended that "the increased intensity of hurricanes is associated with global warming."

The Kyoto advocates point to warmer ocean temperatures, but they ought to read their own favorite newspaper, The New York Times, which reported yesterday:

"Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught 'is very much natural,' said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.'"

An article on TCS quoted Gray last year as saying that, while some groups and individuals say that hurricane activity lately "may be in some way related to the effects of increased man-made greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide,...there is no reasonable scientific way that such an interpretation...can be made."

Indeed, there is no evidence that hurricanes are intensifying anyway. For the North Atlantic as a whole, according to the United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Organization: "Reliable data...since the 1940s indicate that the peak strength of the strongest hurricanes has not changed, and the mean maximum intensity of all hurricanes has decreased."

Yes, decreased.

Not only has the intensity of hurricanes fallen, but, as George H. Taylor, the state climatologist of Oregon has pointed out, so has the frequency of hailstorms in the U.S. (see Changnon and Changnon) and cyclones throughout the world (Gulev, et al.).

But environmental extremists do not want to be bothered with the facts. Nor do they wish to mourn the destruction and death wreaked on a glorious city. To their everlasting shame, they would rather distort and exploit.

This really is a cheap polemical trick by Glassman to insert a few discordant facts into the left's otherwise highly satisfying argument: Katrina was caused by global warming, global warming is caused by American intransigence on Kyoto, America is lead by Bush. Ergo, Bush caused Katrina and should be impeached this very afternoon!

As a footnote to the left's wild suppositions and misunderstandings about the effects of global warming, Chris Matthews on Wednesday night actually suggested that it was the cause of the Indian Ocean tsunami last December. NBC science advisor, Robert Bazell, had to explain to him that the tsunami was a result of an undersea earthquake and totally unrelated to atmospheric temperatures. To his credit, Matthews seemed to comprehend, somewhat, the irrelevance of a degree or two rise in global temperature to the periodic slippage of the earth's crustal plates and was content to let the matter drop.