Katrina's Real Name
- Katrina's real name
By Ross Gelbspan | August 30, 2005
THE HURRICANE that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina
by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.
When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the
cause was global warming.
When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia
and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and the
United Kingdom, the driver was global warming.
When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the
Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the
reason was global warming.
In July, when the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in
Spain and Portugal and left water levels in France at their lowest in
30 years, the explanation was global warming.
When a lethal heat wave in Arizona kept temperatures above 110
degrees and killed more than 20 people in one week, the culprit was
And when the Indian city of Bombay (Mumbai) received 37 inches of
rain in one day -- killing 1,000 people and disrupting the lives of
20 million others -- the villain was global warming.
As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense
downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms.
Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced
off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity
by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of
The consequences are as heartbreaking as they are terrifying.
Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of
Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent
millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.
The reason is simple: To allow the climate to stabilize requires
humanity to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent. That, of
course, threatens the survival of one of the largest commercial
enterprises in history.
In 1995, public utility hearings in Minnesota found that the coal
industry had paid more than $1 million to four scientists who were
public dissenters on global warming. And ExxonMobil has spent more
than $13 million since 1998 on an anti-global warming public
relations and lobbying campaign.
In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory
yet when President George W. Bush was elected president -- and
subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and
As the pace of climate change accelerates, many researchers fear we
have already entered a period of irreversible runaway climate change.
Against this background, the ignorance of the American public about
global warming stands out as an indictment of the US media.
When the US press has bothered to cover the subject of global
warming, it has focused almost exclusively on its political and
diplomatic aspects and not on what the warming is doing to our
agriculture, water supplies, plant and animal life, public health,
For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord
the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it
accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change -- more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to
the United Nations.
Today, with the science having become even more robust -- and the
impacts as visible as the megastorm that covered much of the Gulf of
Mexico -- the press bears a share of the guilt for our self-induced
destruction with the oil and coal industries.
As a Bostonian, I am afraid that the coming winter will -- like last
winter -- be unusually short and devastatingly severe. At the
beginning of 2005, a deadly ice storm knocked out power to thousands
of people in New England and dropped a record-setting 42.2 inches of
snow on Boston.
The conventional name of the month was January. Its real name is
Ross Gelbspan is author of ''The Heat Is On" and ''Boiling Point."
Note: Winters in the Northern Hemisphere under global warming are
predicted to produce heavier snow and ice storms provided
temperatures are cold enough (associated with more moisture in the
atmosphere due to warmer temperatures).