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Fw: Global Warming Fuels Hurricanes

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    ... Global Warming Fuels Hurricanes By BRENDA EKWURZEL Knight Ridder
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2005
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      ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
      Global Warming Fuels Hurricanes
      Knight Ridder Newspapers, The Ledger, Lakeland Florida
      Published Saturday, September 3, 2005

      In the course of a few days, Hurricane Katrina transformed itself
      from a mild tropical storm into one of the most devastating
      hurricanes on record.

      Because rising global temperatures have warmed the oceans, and warm
      oceans fuel hurricanes, many people have asked whether global warming
      is at work.

      It is impossible to blame any one weather event -- be it a hurricane
      or a heat wave or a blizzard -- on global warming. That's because
      weather is not climate. Climate represents average conditions over
      multiple seasons or decades. A longer perspective is essential to see
      climate shifts above the natural variation.

      Atmospheric scientists compared data over the past half century and
      found there is a link between global warming and the power -- not
      frequency -- of hurricanes.

      Recent research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows
      that the duration and intensity of hurricanes has doubled over the
      last 30 years. This trend corresponds to increases in average ocean
      surface temperatures over the period.

      Most of the strongest hurricanes on record have occurred during the
      past 10 years, when ocean surface temperatures reached record levels.
      And climate scientists around the world are certain that rising ocean
      temperatures are a result of global warming.

      Burning fossil fuels in cars and power plants releases carbon dioxide
      that blankets the Earth and traps heat. Oceans cover the majority of
      the Earth's surface, and they absorb most of this excess heat.
      Temperatures have already risen dramatically in recent decades, and
      because global warming pollution can stay in the atmosphere for a
      hundred or more years, temperatures will only continue to increase.

      This is a serious problem.

      A warmer planet means more droughts, extreme heat with serious impact
      on air quality and human health, more intense rain storms and rising
      sea level that threaten people living on the coasts.

      If state and federal governments ignore global warming, hurricane
      damage will likely escalate.

      In 2004, hurricanes caused more than $45 billion in damages. The cost
      of Katrina alone may surpass that. To protect the lives of coastal
      residents and reduce property damage, we need to start addressing
      global warming today.

      And the United States should take the lead. With only 4 percent of
      the world's population, the United States emits 25 percent of the
      world's global-warming pollution.

      Unfortunately, President Bush has failed to act on global warming. In
      fact, his administration has misrepresented the work of climate
      scientists. This failure is discouraging U.S. companies from
      producing and selling the most efficient cars and trucks, appliances
      and renewable energy systems here and in Europe, Japan, China and
      India. This will put the U.S. economy at a disadvantage.

      For economic and environmental reasons, and above all to save human
      lives, we must take action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. Too
      much is at stake to ignore Katrina's warning signs.

      Brenda Ekwurzel is a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned
      Scientists, an independent nonprofit alliance of scientists.

      Posted by Tim

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