Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Global Warming and Hurricanes

Perhaps one of the silliest criticisms leveled against President Bush and his Administration has to do with global warming and the Kyoto Protocol. Now we see some of the usual suspects using Hurricane Katrina as a further basis for that criticism.

The UN-based Kyoto Protocol, signed by Vice President Gore in 1998, was not submitted to the Senate because the Clinton Administration knew it would never be ratified. This was obvious because a resolution against it, sponsored by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), passed the Senate 95-0.

The reason the Senate opposed it, and would do so again if it was sent up for ratification, is because it's disadvantageous to the U.S. and would damage the U.S. economy. The Clinton-Gore Administration earned credit with their environmentalist constituency by signing it, even though they knew it would never go anywhere. It has served a purpose, though, as a weapon some use to bash Bush, illustrating their wacky view that he hates the environment.

It's gotten to the point that some extremists now blame just about everything bad that happens in the world, including Hurricane Katrina, at least partly on global warming. And, of course, President Bush is responsible for global warming because he (like his predecessor) hasn't submitted the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate.

While there's scientific debate about global warming, it undoubtedly exists and is a problem. However, the extent of the problem, its effects, its causes, and practical policy responses are less clear. Even The New York Times published an article stating:

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.

However, information like this won't be enough to defuse attacks against President Bush regarding the Kyoto Protocol and global warming in terms of the causes of hurricanes. After all, for some people ideology trumps facts every time.

The New York Times also published an interesting article comparing the severity and cost of past hurricanes that have hit the U.S.


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