Bigger, Badder, Wilder

Less than three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, a study published in Science showed that, while the number of tropical cyclones had not increased between 1970 and 2004, their strength had surged: Category-4 or -5 hurricanes where more than 50 percent more frequent in the second half of that period than in the first (Webster et al., Science, 16 September 2005).

American Institute of Physics

Hmm… I wonder why this would be happening? Perhaps we should look around for other trends during the same time slice?

Elsner used an elaborate statistical method (first devised by economics Nobel Prize winner Clive Granger) to answer the first of those two questions. He examined spikes in global atmospheric temperature (using satellite and ground-based data collected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and compared them to seasonal changes in average sea-surface temperatures for the entire northern-hemisphere part of the Atlantic (based on National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration data). His analysis showed that the spikes in atmospheric temperature mostly tended to come right before hurricane-season spikes in oceanic temperature, suggesting that the first were causing the second.

-Again, the AIP

The earth is a huge series of interconnected systems. (and you thought I was going to say pipes). The Average person dumps around 24 pounds of carbon a day into the air (world average, the average American dumps 122 pounds per day into the air). The earth can absorb about 9 pounds of carbon per person per day. That means, the carbon levels are increasing by about 13 pounds per person per day. Or about 65 billion pounds per day. That much change to one of the earth’s systems will have an effect on the others.

We know several things here.

  1. The carbon levels are the highest that they have been in 800,000 years (as far back as we can see).
  2. The carbon change has been unprecedentedly fast
  3. We are pumping billions of tons of carbon into the air per year
  4. Carbon absorbs heat.
  5. Carbon in the air changes the Albedo of a planet

I know that there are some who do not feel that global warming is true – or even possible. However, science is often simply applied common sense. It makes sense, given the evidence, that we have had an effect on the global climate. It’s time to wake up to that fact, and stop playing Chicken Little.

Leave a Reply