GOP Climate Deniers Hold Convention In Tampa, But Mayor Warns He’s ‘Prepared To Call It Off’ If Hurricane Isaac Hits

Perhaps the largest convention of climate science deniers in history — otherwise known as the 2012 Republican National Convention — starts Monday in Tampa, Florida. Unfortunately for the GOP, they are in the bull’s-eye of the latest track for tropical storm Isaac:

Even worse, Tampa Bay has unique geography that puts it atop the list of U.S. cities most vulnerable to a direct hit from a major hurricane. As meteorologist and former hurricane hunter Jeff Masters explained last week:

About 1/3 of the 4-county Tampa Bay region lies within a flood plain. Over 800,000 people live in evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane, and 2 million people live in evacuation zones for a Category 5 hurricane.

Masters points out that in a worst-case scenario, the “Tampa Bay convention center would go under 20 feet of water, and St. Petersburg would become an island, as occurred during the 1848 hurricane”: Minnesota Public Radio chief meteorologist Paul Huttner pointed out today:

“If major evacuations are called for, Tampa’s geography makes it almost impossible to get everybody out of town to safer locations. In fact, possible last hour variations in the eventual track of Isaac may make it impossible to tell residents where to evacuate to.”

That is why the Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn takes any forecast of a major storm headed toward his city very seriously. If Isaac turns out to hurricane and bears down on the GOP convention in Tampa, Buckhorn told CNN, “Absolutely, we’re prepared to call it off”:

Two points on the global warming connection. First, the subject is inevitably going to come up if — as the anniversary of Katrina approaches — we have a hurricane bearing down on a party that in just four years has flipped from running on climate action to running away from climate science (see National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”). Second, as Kevin Trenberth, former head of Climate Analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained in the journal Climatic Change this year:

The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be…. The air is on average warmer and moister than it was prior to about 1970 and in turn has likely led to a 5–10 % effect on precipitation and storms that is greatly amplified in extremes. The warm moist air is readily advected onto land and caught up in weather systems as part of the hydrological cycle, where it contributes to more intense precipitation events that are widely observed to be occurring.

Global warming fuels more intense deluges from major storms like hurricanes. At the same time, warming-driven sea level rise makes storm surges more destructive.

“More than half the total hurricane damage in the U.S. (normalized for inflation and populations trends) was caused by just five events,” explained MIT hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel in an email to me a few years ago. Trenberth has said that because the extremes are disproportionately more destructive and because manmade warming makes them disproportionately more likely, climate change can become the “straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

The irony of a hoard of GOP climate science deniers descending on this climate-endangered city was underscored when the Tampa Bay Tribune published an article Sunday by Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, president-elect of the American Meteorological Society, on the many serious climate impacts the city faces: Sea level rise, brutal heat waves, ever-worsening deluges and urban flooding, and more intense hurricanes.

Because of the combination of these impacts, major conventions are likely to skip the coastal cities of the Gulf during hurricane season in the coming decades. Sea level rise and ever-worsening storms will make the risks too high. And in the second half of the century, temperatures routinely exceeding 100°F in the summer will ruin many southern cities as convention sites.

Of course, it’s not too late to avert the worst of climate change, but a certain obstructionist party would have to come to its senses and support preventive action now. That may seem impossible today, but consider the final irony. Here’s what Paul Ryan just said about “your President, or your Congressman, or your Senator” (on a different subject):

What if they knew approximately when it was going to happen, and what if they knew how to prevent it from happening and they had the time to do that but they just decided not to because it wasn’t good politics?

What if? People who live in green houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Note: The storm track has been updated. You can find the latest one here.

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30 Responses to GOP Climate Deniers Hold Convention In Tampa, But Mayor Warns He’s ‘Prepared To Call It Off’ If Hurricane Isaac Hits

  1. David B says:

    Joe, I think Mother Nature read chapter 4 of your book..

  2. John Gen says:

    Good. The GOP will have less time to replace R-Money and friend.

  3. Bob says:

    Pray for rain.

  4. Paul Klinkman says:

    The NWS really can’t forecast hurricane strengths accurately.

    They say there’s no more than a 2% chance of a category 3 hurricane on Monday. While it would become interesting if Isaac flooded the convention floor, it’s far more likely that the area would experience thousands of downed trees across the roads and region-wide scattered losses of electric power, including stop light electricity. This type of event might be enough for the Republicans to consider shifting their convention.

  5. Michelle M says:

    The Mayor shouldn’t call it off. Let them reap what they sow!

  6. Joe Romm says:

    Even a Cat 1 would be a disaster given Tampa’s geography.

  7. Old Uncle Dave says:

    It won’t matter if they have to cancel. The primary elections have made conventions obsolete. And boring to watch.

  8. Ozonator says:

    And one of the lords spoke from one of the denier media outlet instructing those bound by greed and hate to collect all their SUVs and NRA guns in one place – Tampa. They were instructed to drive around the city for 3 days and 3 nights after removing all the pollution control equipment and muffler from the vehicles. They were instructed to shoot the approaching hurricane isaac with bullets or bacon. And they were rewarded with the tempest hitting another failed GOP state…

  9. Artful Dodger says:

    Pray that Issac’s center doesn’t pass Tampa to the West with a storm surge arriving around 11 A.M. on Monday…

    Hide Tide for Old Port Tampa August 27, 2012:
    11:11 AM, 2.9 feet.

  10. r says:

    Are you saying that if a hurricane hits Tampa, the Republicans might have to “abort” the convention?

  11. Lou Grinzo says:

    No matter what happens with this storm, climate-change-wise it won’t amount to more than some chatter among the people like us. A big hit on Tampa and a cancelled convention would break into the mainstream news and public consciousness only if the media had a dramatic change in their behavior, which, sadly, I don’t see happening.

  12. MorinMoss says:

    I thought the GOP was the party of faith and had a hotline to the Almighty.

    What could they possibly have to fear?
    Surely the Good Shepherd wouldn’t do anything to upset their goal to rid America of the Socialist Satan currently occupying the Oval Office.

  13. Paul Klinkman says:

    Joe, I had a look on Google Earth and I’ll agree with you. It depends on the hurricane’s path.

    The Tampa Convention Center is right on the water. Its a gorgeous site as long as there isn’t a hurricane. The access road running right by the convention center is 6 feet above sea level at one spot. The staging area and parking lot behind the convention center, where all the networks would set up their tractor trailers, is also 6 feet above sea level. If all the networks have to report that their coverage failed because salt water got in their cables much less in their trucks, the convention will be a flop. It’s all made-for-TV entertainment in the first place.

    Downtown Tampa is at the head of a long, shallow bay, which is how a 27 foot surge shown on the map above could occur with the wrong Category 4 hurricane.

    The only question now is, what NOAA/NHS percentage chance of failure and disaster will cause the Republican leadership to abort? How long can they wait? Tick tick tick tick…

  14. sparks says:

    You mean they’ll actually believe a government forecast? These are the same science-denying Republicans we’re talking about here, right?

  15. From Peru says:

    What is really disturbing is that before hitting Florida, the hurricane will hit HAITI.

    Haiti, that suffered in 2010 a catastrophic magnitude 7 earthquake that destroyed Port-Au-Prince and killed nearly 200 000 people(that is almost the number of victims from the 2004 Indian Ocean magnitude 9 Earthquake/Tsunami) and then by a colera epidemic, is probably the most vulnerable area in the continent to be hit by an hurricane.

    Pray for the people of Haiti.

  16. bratisla says:

    Haiti, whatever happens, has not the necessary resilience to get through natural hazards without damage. But this is now even more worrisome, as lots of people still live in camps.
    For once, I won’t hope that the hurricane will flood Tampa, I will hope instead that it will set its course North. A mere hurricane will note change the Republican’s denial : the GOP governors of states suffering 2 years long droughts are still in denial …

  17. Ozonator says:

    Morano is now egging on the old white folks to go to Tampa anyway in the face of President Obama’s NWS hoax. Looter Limbaugh’s involvement abusing public airwaves with Isaac adds an average of at least 30 more deaths from those who can’t walk on water nor pay for the basic infrastructure upkeep built by their grandparents. Victims will not get any warnings from the GOP’s weather experts like 5-Watts as proof of their ability to note weather stations.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Pray that Isaac doesn’t veer off at the last moment and miss them, whereupon they are sure to claim it as a sign of Divine Approval.

  19. David Lewis says:

    Kerry Emmanuel’s “Divine Wind” is a great book by one of the world’s experts on hurricanes. It would make great reading right now.

    Emmanuel is the former Republican atmospheric scientist who was advocating to Republicans that they should stop denying the obvious. He couldn’t take it anymore, and now lists himself as an Independent. Chris Mooney interviews him for Point of Inquiry here.

    Emmanuel describes hurricanes of the past that affected world history. The Mongols invading Japan were stopped by hurricanes, twice. They gave up. The Japanese passed down the legend of the Divine Wind, the Kamikaze, that protected their homeland.

    In the food for thought department, for those wondering what could possibly shake Republicans out of their climate science denial:

    In the book, Emmanuel explains why Hurricane Camille seemed to suddenly intensify beyond anyone’s expectation into just about the most intense hurricane with probably the highest wind speed ever to make landfall in the US.

    He shows what happens to normal hurricanes as they pass over the warm ocean they are getting their energy from. What limits your average hurricane is the fact that the storm lowers the temperature of the ocean it is passing over by mixing the warm surface water with cooler water from deeper down.

    Emmanuel provides great graphics which make this clear.

    There is a meandering Loop Current in the Gulf where the warm water is deep.

    It is thought that the power in Hurricane Camille developed because its track followed the Loop Current.

    Camille’s windspeed at landfall isn’t known because it destroyed all measuring devices. The estimate is greater than 190 mph.

    Something bigger than Camille is going to come out of the Gulf one day.

  20. scarecities says:

    whatever happens, it’ll still be down to them hoaxers

  21. Joan Savage says:

    Because hurricanes rotate counterclockwise, Hurricane Isaac could either push against the tidal flow or with it, depending on which side of the hurricane is interacting with the tides.

  22. As someone commented elsewhere, I think it was the Washington Post, “The invisible hand of God is giving the finger to the GOP.”

  23. From Peru says:

    “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”

    Sadly, here is an example of another anti-science right-wing Party, that is currently in power in Czech Republic:

    The Manmade Contribution to Ongoing Global Warming Is Not a Planetary Emergency

    I hope this anti-scientific ideology do not spread elsewere.

  24. Joan Savage says:

    The Tampa Bay disaster plan’s evacuation map shows that the convention center itself is vulnerable (after locating it with Google maps), but that a non-evacuation zone is only about two miles to the north of the convention center. This may be a factor in the seeming complacency.

    Both the civilian and military airports are in the most vulnerable evacuation zones, A and B, so if anyone goes to the convention anyway, they’d better have limos lined up to head north and east and get on the highways with other evacuees. Forget taking a plane out of Tampa.

  25. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    This could be a large hurricane in size, if it gets it’s act together. The most recet models (thursday 8pm) are shifting west, so a direct hit on tampa is less likely, but a large storm could raise sea level and flood parts of tampa, especially if it is rapidly intensifying as it passes the shallow continental shelf off florida’s west coast.

    The models are shifting west, and the storm may well hit between pensacola and the mounth of the mississippi, including new orleans. This track would also give the storm more time to intensify, and bring it over some oil platforms. Even if it’s impact on tampa is limited, it could provide an apocalyptic backdrop to the republican convention, which is doing the devil’s work on earth!

  26. Paul Magnus says:

    So the GOP think they can ignore the climate…. Gaia’s Revenge.

  27. Paul Magnus says:

    Will this be positive proof that Gaia is alive and kicking…. ass?

  28. EHarding says:

    I keep seeing this convention center and thinking about the dome in New Orleans and all of the people in it riding out the hurricane. Wonder if they will feel that panic at all. Of course, I am sure there is plenty of water, refreshment and steak available, unlike those in New Orleans…and also heard that the tourists (i.e. Republican conventioneers) will be evacuated first, THEN the disabled. Just think if they just didn’t go down there, how many people would be evacuated sooner, moving the people of Tampa up the food chain by 50,000 people!