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Another milder-than-normal season takes shape

During the active 2005 hurricane season, the usual doom-and-gloom prophets blamed the storms on global warming. "Nature's wrath," we were told, "hath been unleashed". Aided by a complaisant media, we were told this was our wakeup call, come to punish us for our SUV-driving ways.

Then disaster struck.  The 2006 season not only didn't live up to predictions, it wound up being one of the quietest seasons of the past century. No matter. We were told to ignore this year-long blip, told that 2007 would come roaring back with a vengeance.

And yet, here we are, two full months into the season, and not a single hurricane has formed. Not one. Just two mild tropical storms, one of which didn't even strike land, and a third storm which never went above subtropical status. Hurricane forecasters are busily downgrading their predictions for the rest of the season.

And so it goes. The sky isn't falling yet. But what about the future? Will global warming wreck all our beach-going vacations?

There are two schools of thought regarding the effects of climate change on hurricane science. The first begins with the fact that hurricanes require warm water to form. Global warming means warmer water, leading to the naive conclusion is that more hurricanes will form. The second school realizes that hurricanes are heat engines -- driven not by raw temperature, but by temperature differentials between regions. Global warming warms the arctic and temperate belts, but not the tropics. This reduces the total energy available for major storm formation. It also increases upper-level wind shear, which tends to tear apart storms before they grow too strong. This school believes the long term effects of global warming will be fewer, milder storms.

Climate change aside, hurricanes come and go in cycles. Professor William Gray, one of the nation's most respected hurricane forecasters, believes storm activity will remain high for the next several years, due simply to a long-term cycle of changing Atlantic currents. A team of researchers led by Dr. Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center goes further. In a paper published last year, they claim storm rates have not risen over the past 100 years, but only that improved monitoring technology results in registering storms which would have previously been missed. And professors Vecchi and Soden's research on wind shear suggests no long-term storm activity increase should be expected.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not selling my ocean-front condo just yet.

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RE: Here's the reference...
By Keeir on 8/1/2007 9:52:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think you protest too much.

I posted that comment by mistake. I had originally intended to edit it for clarity and ran out of time... hitting the "post comment" button rather than cancel.

The expectation, not obligation, you would include a reference to the Holland study indicates that I have a higher standard for you that that of mainstream reporter. My personal expectations for mainstream reporters is about a 7th grade level ability at math and writing, due to the large number of idiotic stories that routinely get significant press butchering at even the pinnacles of the press (BBC, CNN, NYT, WSJ). Although I do admit this is slightly unfair.

Again, my expectation was formed on;
1. Pretty much every news outlet has carried the story about the Holland Study (although the Study is from a quick reading deeply flawed) starting with CNN International (the first one I read anyway) on 7/29. It does seem slightly disingenuous that you were totally unaware of the study.

2. Again, calling the other people more biased is not really a great reason to be biased

RE: Here's the reference...
By masher2 on 8/2/2007 10:29:20 AM , Rating: 2
> "The expectation...indicates that I have a higher standard for you that that of mainstream reporter"

While I appreciate the kind words, I have to point out standard journalistic ethics, which requires news reports to be unbiased and objective, but op-ed commentary (a category to which blogs belong) is not. Commentary is intended to display a biased opinion. The only journalistic standard is that op-ed pieces be clearly labelled as such, rather than straight news reporting.

Anyone reading the above blog clearly knows my position on the debate. That makes it biased. I proudly stand behind that. However-- in sharp contrast to supposedly "unbiased" mainstream news -- that opinion is not only backed up by scientific fact and hard reasoning, but the dissenting opinion is also reported. I have enough faith in my readers intellects to allow them to choose which side they believe in; I don't need to force them down a path by offering them only a single option.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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