Forecast: Storm Warning — Preparing for Global Warming

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"Forecast: Storm Warning — Preparing for Global Warming"

bracken3.jpgClimate Progress is happy to introduce Bracken Hendricks. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP). He has a forthcoming book on climate solutions with Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) — Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. You can read his full bio here. I first met Bracken when I was at DOE, and he was a Special Assistant to Al Gore. Then we were both on the Energy Efficiency panel of the Energy Future Coalition. Now we are both Senior Fellows at CAP. He brings a unique perspective to the energy/climate debate. Welcome, Bracken!

As we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it is time to begin the work of ensuring that there will be no more climate refugees. Forecast: Storm Warning,” a report released today by the Center for American Progress, does just that.

Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the first line of defense against fiercer hurricanes from global warming, but as the real-world impacts of climate change begin to materialize, it’s time to prepare our communities to be more disaster resilient — to reduce future damages and costs of severe storms from global warming. This will take strong federal leadership and public support.

Readers of this blog know that there is an emerging consensus among climate scientists that global warming is increasing the ferocity of hurricanes, as shown in the work of Michael Mann and Kerry Emanuel, linking increased sea surface temperatures to more severe storms. A 2006 study in Science goes even further, strongly indicating that warming may even be increasing the frequency of Category 4 and 5 storms. Many more studies are here.

Certainly the cost of storm damage is rising, both as a result of more damaging storms, but also from the migration of ever increasing numbers of American’s to coastal communities in hurricane alley. In 1999 average insured losses from hurricanes cost $2.7 billion, by 2005 that number had skyrocketed to $57.2 billion. And today, 12% of the US population–or 34.9 million people–live along the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts, while over half of Americans live within striking distance of disastrous hurricanes. CAP has long championed work on global warming preparedness to focus on the immediate threat of climate change and to draw attention to the potential dislocation of billions of people around the globe.

Today’s CAP report, “Forecast: Storm Warning”, launched by a panel of experts including Orange County Florida’s Republican Mayor Crotty, lays out a plan for investing in community level preparedness and mitigation efforts that make communities stronger and more responsive to natural disasters, with a special eye toward the impacts of changing climate. This report by lead authors Jane Bullock, former FEMA chief of staff to James Lee Witt and Kit Batten, Director of Environmental Programs at CAP among others, looks closely at the successful track record of the community based mitigation efforts of FEMA’s Project IMPACT of the 1990’s, which created $4 of value in avoided damages for every $1 invested, yet was slashed by the Bush Administration. The report’s recommendations include establishing an agency directly accountable for preparing for global warming impacts and reducing the harms of natural disaster, as well as strong federal leadership and support for community based mitigation partnership along with state government, non-profits, and business.

It is not just hurricanes that endanger Americans, but as record floods, droughts, and wildfires are encircling the planet, it is clear that climate change demands that American’s prepare to make our communities safer and more resistant to the impacts of global warming. In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Dean, and as this hurricane season intensifies, hopefully our national leaders are listening to this critical call to action.

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14 Responses to Forecast: Storm Warning — Preparing for Global Warming

  1. Mike M. says:

    Global Warming is crafty. It’s trying to get us to think it’s not there by, like, hiding all the hurricanes in 2006 and freezing all the keesters of of South Americans this winter. We should be, like, ” Gee, it’s not very hot! I think I’m kind of chilly!” And then Global warming will show it’s face and we’ll, like, kick it’s ass or something.

  2. Ron says:

    Another politician?

    When will we hear from a scientist?

  3. The fight against global warming will always need comedians to keep our spirits up, Mike. I’m not sure that hurricanes have a sense of humor, though, so if you live right on the coast…uh.

    And hooray for CAP for recommending action and practical planning now.

  4. David D. says:

    I am a scientist who is qualified to discuss “Man Made” global warming. Good response Mike. Ron, go to NOAA.gov and find the data on major and minor hurricanes that have hit the US over the last approximately 150 years. Copy the data (number of hurricans per decade) into your favorite spreadsheet and plot the data. You will quickly see that there is absolutely no connection between hurricanes and global warming. NOAA data takes out the spin – it takes out the hype. For those who are interested in doing this, it will take about 30 minutes to look up the data, extract it to a spreadsheet and plot it. Don’t believe me. Don’t believe Mr. Hendricks. Believe your own research. Look it up.

    P.S. I am not ignorant to science. I am not paid off by “Big Oil”. I am an environmentalist/Fly fisherman. I have become active in this issue because (1) I do not want to see science lose it’s credibility and (2) I do not want my tax dollars supporting junk science. I’d want my tax dollars to fund clean water, clean air… real issues.

  5. Mike M. says:

    I agree David. I’m sure most here at this blog do indeed mean well but guys you are not accomplishing anything with the sky-is-falling routine anymore. Why not go for the big piece of the pie you could get: moving this country away from an oil based economy. Safely moving our transportation economy from gas would require a Manhattan Project type effort to acquire the technology not to mention hundreds of billions in new infrastructure. You could get all of us conservatives on board for that one because, to put it bluntly, it would impoverish our enemies. As it sits right now you’ve managed to completely polarize this issue. Personally I believe we are all going to freeze our butts off when solar cycle 25 hits but in the meantime I’d pay an extra $1 a gallon to be able to drive a hydrogen car some day.

  6. It gets old that those of us who work hard to provide the public science and explore how science can translate into good policy to help our planet and fellow humans are constantly criticized by the deniers who act largely from highly polarized ideologies. The criticism of this post, for “polarizing the debate,” by the people who are polarizing the debate, is very funny. Hendricks- great post. I am looking forward to reading the report. It interests me more and more often how we are seeing people in corporate and government leadership positions address “adaptation.”

  7. Paul K says:

    The effect of Global Warming on hurricanes is not settled as this from a joint statement of the
    World Meteorological Organization indicates. “Currently there is large overall uncertainty in future changes in tropical cyclone frequency as projected by climate models with future greenhouse gases. The most recent results obtained from medium and high resolution GCM indicate a consistent signal of fewer tropical cyclones globally in a warmer climate (Sugi et al., 2002;
    McDonald et al., 2005; Bengtsson et al., 2006; Oouchi et al., 2006) , with some
    regions showing increases in some simulations, though these findings are still not
    conclusive.”

    For example, a study by the French National Scientific Research Center found that a uniform 2 degrees Celsius of warming decreased global hurricane activity by 9.0 to 18.4 percent, with no appreciable change in intensity. Another from the American Meteorlogical Society found no indication of stronger storms in the future, and rather found a reduction in the total number of storms.

  8. David D. says:

    Agreed Mike. It is not about conservative or liberal, it is about becoming energy independent. Ms. Moore. Science is not about hype or political policy. Science is about establishing truth – regardless of whether it fits someone or some groups agenda. It is unfortunate that you claim to support “public science and explore how science can translate into good policy” – whatever that is – when you are not willing to accept the data. Please, rather then pontificate your rhetoric, convince me with your scientific reproducible data that man is responsible for global warming. Then I and other scientists will consider your policies. What gets old is persons who try to persuade people to accept policy using emotion rather then sound science.

    First, if you want to convince me and other real scientists that man is responsible for global warming answer the following questions – starting with the fundamental assumption that the Global Mean Temperature has increased over the last century by only 0.6 degrees centigrade – with data not emotional hype. To answer this question, I need to know the following:

    1. What are the assumptions used when determining the “Global Mean Temperature”? What is the error when measuring this global mean temperature. I have read the IPCC report which states that the error is 0.2 degrees centigrade. That is not the total error in the global mean temperature. That error is the variability associated with the difference in the measureing instruments not the cumulative error in each instrument. In order to properly measure something, the number of variables needs to be minimized. Therefore, have we been measuring the same number of instruments over the past century or have the number instruments increased? Have the instruments remained in the same area, at the same height, under the same conditions, surrounded by the same solar reflective/absorbent materials or have they been moved. Have these measurements been taken at the same time of the day during same same time of the year? Were these instruments continually calibrated? If you check the facts, as I have, you will see that the “Global Mean Temperature” means absolutely nothing. The measurement is overwhelmed with errors and variables. I am not saying the the planet has not warmed – I am from Wisconsin – it was under a sheet of ice approximately 10-15,000 years ago – what I am saying is that we do NOT know how much the global temperature has really changed. Yes the glaciers are receding. What do you think has been going on for the last 15,000 years? Where do you think the great lakes came from? The earth like absolutely everything in this amazing planet goes through cycles and I an NOT going to give up my hard earned money for some stupid junk science and I have already convinced dozens of others of the stupidity of this movement. Now if you want to talk about clean water for the poor of third world nations, then I am ready to listen. Otherwise, unless you can give me solid data, don’t try to make me support your useless policies. I support Al Gore’s expertise in science as much as I support Bush’s expertise in foreign policy.

  9. Mike M. says:

    And then you have people like Shannon who would much rather wallow in their self-righteousness than actually accomplish anything. Notice the use of the pejorative “Denier”. Someone who believes that climate change is due to natural causes because every climate change in the history of the planet has been due to natural causes is the equivalent of a Holocaust Denier. My what an apt comparison. Why they’re just the same exact thing! That ought to gain you a lot of supporters. Tell you what, though. Try not to use that phrase around someone who had a relative die in Auschwitz. You’ll get your ass kicked.

  10. Mike M. says:

    Any one care to take a crack at this without insulting me or claiming that the author is on the payroll of Exxon?
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/monckton/whatgreenhouse/moncktongreenhousewarming.pdf

  11. Mike M. says:

    And here’s one of many peer-reviewed scientists who believe that warming will REDUCE the intensities of hurricanes…
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/disasters/001177chris_landsea_on_new.html

  12. David D. says:

    Bingo Ron. This site is not about getting out the truth, it is about propagating an agenda. The “Global Warming Alarmists” claim that the “deniers” are supported by Exxon, etc. – not me and i would speculate from my research that the vast majority of “deniers” are not paid off by Exxon. That being said, there is never any talk about how much money is involved in the “Global Warming” alarmist crowd. I would assume that if those companies that produce those pathetic models make their living on supporting “Global Warming” alarmists. I would bet my annual salary that they would lose their “funding” if the models show that global warming is a natural phenomenon. So they “fudge” their algorithms to support their client’s expectations. This is a simple conclusion given that their models are not able to even accurately reproduce historical climate data. This is a simple conclusion given that their models constantly change to fit the changing climate. Once again, these extremist environmentalists focus want to cripple progress. Although I will work hard to prevent them from seriously impacting my standard of living and significantly increasing my taxes to fund junk science, i feel for those poor in 3rd world countries who will be seriously crippled from these policies. These environmentalists claim to support to poor but work to keep them in poverty. Yes, we need to maintain clean air and water and minimize pollution – but CO2 is NOT a pollutant. It is an essential element for life. Give me a break. We know that science is losing it’s mind when scientists allow politicians to categorize CO2 as a pollutant. Next thing they will do is label oxygen or water as a pollutant… BTW – water is by far the largest contributor to the “greenhouse effect”. Perhaps we need to reduce the amount of water in the atmosphere before it’s too late and our grandchildren have to live in house boats. Those of you who may read this blog, use your common sense when you heard these nuts talk about the end of the world because of CO2 (gas that we exhale and plants breathe).

    Common sense stuff:

    10-15,000 years ago northern America was under a sheet of ice. Guess glaciers have been melting for 10-15,000 years…

    According to science, it was much warmer during the time of the dinosaurs. There was much, much more CO2 in the prehistoric atmosphere. So why was that the case? no humans were around driving their SUV’s… except perhaps the Flintstones. In addition, according to the alarmists, once we get to a certain CO2 level, the earth will be in an unstoppable CO2 increase! We will not be able to stop the increase in CO2 – not even if we completely stop emitting CO2 into the atmosphere… If ths is the case, then the earth should have done his millions of years ago when the CO2 levels were much higher then future predictions…. but of course it did not happen.. We ended up with an ice age.

    Alarmists talk as if the earth at one time had no major hurricanes, droughts or floods. One of the largest droughts in US recorded history was in the 30’s during the dust bowl. We have had category 5 hurricanes for hundreds of years. Floods have existed since the beginning of time. We have gone for two years now without a single hurricane hitting the US? According to alarmist calculations, we should be experiencing several each year. Guess the CO2 is dormant now. Perhaps all that CO2 will become active in September or maybe next year. I mean the CO2 is out there in the atmosphere RIGHT this minute.. so why is it not creating havoc? When it was unseasonably cold last April and May here in the northeast, I had a movement going on. I tried to get SUV owners to drive more, thereby emitting more CO2 so that we could warm up the atmosphere a little… my plants were freezing! I spent a lot of money on those annuals…

    Finally, I have the solution to Global Waming. We should start a movement where the world’s 6.5 billion people hold their breaths for 1 minute each hour. This will eliminate a probably about 20 billion exhales per hour. Since humans exhale CO2, this would start reducing CO2 emissions immediately! That combined with the mercury filled light bulbs and gasX for cows to reduce their emissions should help us save the planet from complete and utter destruction!

  13. Jay Alt says:

    Mike M. –
    Mr. Monckton, the 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, is a reporter by training who loves puzzles. So it’s appropriate his weird claims are dissected and exposed by someone who reports science as a living.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1947248,00.html

    Regarding Chris Landsea of NOAA’s Hurricane center – he doesn’t claim global warming wlll reduce hurricane intensity. He mentions a modeling study that suggests (not proves) that GW could increase wind shear, a factor known to inhibit hurricane formation. But there is no mention of observations that support the theory.

    Below is a good article on the disagreements. I have seen statements from Landsea where he expects GW to increase hurricane power ~9% in the future, in accordance with other models.
    He just doesn’t think the signal is present in the current data.

    http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article2881385.ece

  14. Jonathan says:

    I am willing to be paid off by “big oil”. Hey Exxon, I am a denier, send me a check!

    CAP is just a liberal think tank, with tired ideas.