Hurricane Isaac may Threaten RNC convention of Climate-Change Deniers in Tampa

Hurricane season comes every year in the Mexican Gulf, so it is no real surprise that a tropical depression in the Atlantic may well turn into Hurricane Isaac, and that it in turn may menace the Republican convention in Tampa, as attendees gather this weekend. The party has contingency plans were that to happen.

Hurricane Isaac

But while Floridians live with this threat, it is also true that climate change is already contributing to an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. James Hansen (director of the Goddard Space Center at NASA) and his colleagues Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy recently wrote that while increased drought and dustbowls are already occurring, as the earth warms, so too are violent storms and floods:

“The other extreme of the hydrologic cycle, unusually heavy rainfall and floods, is also expected to be amplified by global warming. The amount of water vapor that the atmosphere holds increases rapidly with atmospheric temperature, and thus a warmer world is expected to have more rainfall occurring in more extreme events. What were “100-year” or “500-year” events are expected to occur more frequently with increased global warming. Rainfall data reveal significant increases of heavy precipitation over much of Northern Hemisphere land and in the tropics (3) and attribution studies link this intensification of rainfall and floods to human-made global warming…”

For every increase of 1 degree Fahrenheit, US hurricanes will likely get 2% stronger (i.e. they are already 5% stronger than 2 centuries ago). In hurricanes, a 5% increase in ferocity matters quite a lot.

So, it is at least a little ironic that the largest convention of professional climate change deniers in the world should be menaced by an extreme weather event. Nature is not impressed by Big Oil lobbying dollars.

This is not the first time in recent months that the climate has had some fun with the deniers. North Carolina law-makers tried to make it illegal for state agencies to predict loss of coast line because of the rising seas that come with climate change.

But North Carolina can’t outlaw scientific effects. While the ocean over-all is expected to rise about 3 feet (one meter) by the end of the century, the US Atlantic coast is especially vulnerable to storm surges. So, that law that upholds the value of coastal NC land is actually just obscuring an ongoing challenge that land owners have a right to know about.

17 Responses

  1. As hurricanes and tornados get bigger and better, perhaps
    we need bigger and better ways to measure and describe them.
    Currently the strength-category awarded to hurricanes tops out at C5 and the strength-category awarded to tornados tops out at F5. But that C5 and F5 are open ended and will be less specifically helpful as hurricanes and tornados get stronger.
    So since every step up from Cat1 to Cat5 is like the rungs on a ladder, we should just add more rungs to the descriptive ladder. Since Cat3 is 111-129mph and Cat4 is
    130-156mph, why make Cat5 be 157-Infinity mph? Why not cap out Cat5 at . . say . . 182mph? And make a new Cat6 class for 183-210mph? And a new Cat7 class for 211-235mph? And so on?

    And why not do the same for tornados?

    • What you really need is the metric system to describe nature. Miles, Fahrenheit, what an anachronism in the 21st century.

      • That seems to be more of a diversion than a reply. If we went metric and measured hurricane windspeed in metric, but still left Cat5 open ended from X kph-Infinity kph, we would still have the same problem of information-hiding openendedness of the Cat5 category.

        The metric system is just a silly legacy of the French Revolution. It bears no more relation to reality than the customary culture-rooted measuremement systems it affects to replace.

        We here in America have gone as metric as we need to. We have metrified science and pharmacy and so forth. Dividing the temperature range between the freezing and boiling points of water into one hundred degrees is just as arbitrary as dividing it into 180 Farenheit degrees. And since the metric degrees are bigger and cruder, they mask finer grained detail which Farenheit degrees reveal and make
        it possible to discuss.

        I remember many years ago once meeting a visiting Soviet Professor of Economics here in Ann Arbor. We talked through a Ukrainian friend-of-mine interpreter. At some point he asked me when America would go metric. I offered the thought that America had a greater chance of going communist than going metric. I still think so. So there.

  2. There’s a great Gary Larson cartoon in which a dog puts a “Cat Fud” sign on the open door of a washing machine and watches a cat approach it. The dog is saying, “Oh please, oh please, oh please…”, and in these circumstances, so am I. I just hope it doesn’t affect the Rays’ chances in the postseason.

  3. Since our science deprived and ignoring leaders are so far unable or unwilling to do anything about the climate catastrophe,

    all of those beautiful buildings in Miami are going to be great habitat for aquatic flora and fauna.

    and an interesting place to do some scuba diving and snorkelling.

  4. What’s notable about Isaac is the possible track northward off the west coast of Florida and then a recurve, driving the maximum possible storm surge into Tampa Bay. Most of the city’s central business district would be under twelve feet of water.

    The uncertainty is due to a low pressure trough currently in Canada that will determine how fast Isaac turns. The reason why Isaac would turn is that Isaac has been fueled by warmer than average ocean temps, and if it gets into the Gulf …

    • Overnight, the current run of the ECMWF shows landfall in Pensacola on the 31st, give or take 200 miles, as a Cat 1. Friday, the NHC will have enough info to narrow the cone of uncertainty, but it looks like Florida’s panhandle is in for a wetting.

      I just hope to be watching the convention when some pundit says “We approve of this panhandle.”

  5. We can enjoy the irony, but a key “plank” in the Republican Party’s platform is that global warming is a hoax. So their official response to Hurricane Isaac, etc will be that (1) this is hurricane season (duh!), and (2) the hurricane was clearly Gawd’s will.

    Then meteorologists and climate scientists will further rush to the Party’s defense, emphasizing that no one weather event can be directly tied to climate change. So another potential teaching moment is lost.

    • There’s nothing wrong with the Global Warmocaust Deniers that a few F6 and F7 tornados full of melon-sized hailstones won’t cure.

  6. Couldn’t care either way, but I remember a couple years ago, a symposium on global warming got snowed out. Just saying.

    • Reality is the stuff that stays real, no matter how hard one tries to wish it away, or pray it away. People who expect to live for several more decades either will or won’t feel the effects of global warming, depending on whether it is or isn’t really happening.

      So make your choice and make your plans. “Him who is not surprised when the future comes, lives very close to the truth.”

  7. If this hurricane actually hits the RNC, I will gladly await Pat Robertson’s comments about God’s wrath. But oh wait, they’re Republicans so he’ll probably stay silent.

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