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Hurricanes fail to change Americans' view on warming -- survey

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  • Mike Neuman
    Hurricanes fail to change Americans view on warming -- survey Greenwire, 3 October 2005 - Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not dramatically change the public s
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 7, 2005
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      Hurricanes fail to change Americans' view on warming -- survey

      Greenwire, 3 October 2005 - Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not
      dramatically change the public's view on climate change, according to
      a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week.

      About 56 percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring,
      the same results as a similar poll conducted in April. Thirty-nine
      percent of those surveyed last month said climate change is to blame
      for the rash of major hurricanes this year. About 54 percent said the
      storm season is an anomaly and just one of those things "that happen
      from time to time." Nearly half of the 1,019 adults polled said
      climate change must be studied further before the government acts,
      while 41 percent said the issue requires "immediate government
      action" (Richard Morin, Washington Post, Oct. 2).

      Meanwhile, new research shows that North Carolina is more vulnerable
      than ever to hurricanes and climate change. According to scientists,
      portions of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands along the Outer Banks could
      be lost within two decades if sea levels and storm intensity continue
      to rise. "The coast is always going to be there," said marine
      geologist Jeff Warren of the North Carolina Division of Coastal
      Management. "It's just a question of where it will be" (Bruce
      Henderson, Charlotte Observer, Oct. 2). Along the Chesapeake Bay in
      Maryland, rising sea levels continue to push more salt water into
      marshlands that require a mix of fresh and salt waters. Scientists
      have said the influx of fresh water -- which drowns up to 400 acres
      of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge each year -- could be the
      result of global warming.

      "There's a lot of development coming, a lot of cement and a lot of
      asphalt and rooftops, and they are going to flush a lot of
      contaminants into the ecosystem," said Bill Giese, an officer with
      the Fish and Wildlife Service. "That's a lot more water coming down
      suddenly into an area that is already drowning because of rising sea
      levels. The system can't take what's being put into it" (Tom Pelton,
      Baltimore Sun, Oct. 2).

      How's it playing? An Anchorage Daily News editorial: "Common sense
      dictates that we cut greenhouse gas emissions, based on the evidence
      we have at hand. It would be foolish to act as if the sky is falling
      and disrupt economies out of fear of climate change. But few would
      argue that less fossil fuel consumption wouldn't be good for reasons
      of health, economy and national security even if there were no
      concerns about warming" (Oct. 2).

      A Washington Post editorial: "Science points out, it is possible that
      global warming has raised ocean temperatures, therefore increasing
      the intensity, if not the frequency, of hurricanes. Rising sea levels
      from melting polar ice caps don't affect hurricanes directly, but
      they do mean that hurricanes do more damage to coastlines, not only
      along the Gulf of Mexico but also on the East Coast, where beach
      erosion is a major problem. Whether or not global climate change is
      causing hurricanes, in other words, it may be helping to increase
      their impact" (Oct. 1). A New York Times editorial: "It is impossible
      to link Katrina or Rita, or any particular hurricane, specifically to
      global warming. This does not mean that President Bush and the rest
      of us should not be connecting the dots. These are natural disasters -
      - but with human fingerprints. Hurricanes derive their strength from
      warm ocean waters. Ocean temperatures have been rising over the last
      100 years, along with atmospheric temperatures. Hurricanes have
      therefore become bigger and more destructive and are likely to grow
      even more violent in the future" (Sept. 28).

      A Philadelphia Inquirer editorial: "The Bush administration and key
      members of Congress have used any uncertainty in climatology to
      resist joining world efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
      contributing to climate change. That needs to stop. While arguing
      over details about the consequences, the scientific community
      overwhelmingly agrees that global warming is serious; human behavior
      is a contributing factor; and countries should act now rather than
      later" (Sept. 18).

      Op-ed In a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, Carl Pope, executive
      director of the Sierra Club, writes: "After Katrina, our country has
      never been more ready to embrace a new energy future to make us more
      secure in every way. In failing to recognize this, our leaders in
      Washington have exposed themselves as dangerously out of touch.
      There's an old saying that everyone talks about the weather, but no
      one ever does anything about it. If our federal government doesn't
      act now to reduce global-warming pollution [adopting the same
      emissions standards for cars as California would be a huge first
      step], that's exactly what future generations will say about us"
      (Oct. 2).

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