Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 10, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CYCLONE NARGIS....Wingers sure are weird. The Wonk Room documents how one of Brent Bozell's media watchdog groups spliced together an NPR interview with Al Gore to make it sound like he was blaming the recent devastating cyclone in Burma on global warming. In the audio splice, they play the end of the interview followed by the start of the interview without any indication that they're taking his words out of order.

But what makes this weird, as opposed to just mendacious in a garden variety way, is that they didn't need to do it. Gore was careful to acknowledge that no individual storm can be blamed on global warming, but he followed that up by saying that global warming is responsible for a trend toward more powerful storms and that the Burma cyclone is an example of that. So why bother splicing the tape dishonestly?

Beats me. Maybe it's just in their blood. In any case, what surprises me is that more people haven't been making the connection between the Burma cyclone and global warming. That kind of talk was all over the place after Hurricane Katrina even though it made little sense in that case. In the end, Katrina made landfall as a strong Cat 3 hurricane, hardly a superstorm, and the bulk of the damage to New Orleans was done not by Katrina itself but by the breaching of poorly built levees. That had nothing to do with global warming.

By contrast, the Burma cyclone really is a good example of the kind of thing we're likely to see more of in coming decades. It's not just that it was a very severe cyclone early in the season, but that it's also highly typical of the damage that global warming is likely to do in the future. It isn't North America that's going to bear the brunt of the damage from climate change, it's poor, low-lying area like Burma and Bangladesh. We'll respond (or try to respond) with aid whenever something like this happens, but all the aid in the world won't make up for the fact that we're the ones warming the globe but it's poor developing countries that are going to pay most of the price.

Kevin Drum 3:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (85)

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Katrina was unusual because that storm got quite powerful out in the Gulf, and because it was the first (of Katrina, Rita, Wilma) storm that year to not just attain category 5, but to make it into the top-six-most-powerful list in one year. It's possible that this was caused by better measurement, but they've been flying pretty much the same planes into storms for decades now.

Stronger storms is also something that only an idiot would dispute -- the connection between warmer water and stronger hurricanes is well-established. Maybe not MORE storms, but all else equal, stronger storms.

Posted by: dr2chase on May 10, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Let's all hush up about global warming until Laura Bush has finished with her jihad against the government of Bhutan.

Posted by: Anon on May 10, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it was probably a bit of luck that Katrina didn't land as a cat4 or even 5 hurricane. IIRC, Katrina brushed past Florida as a cat1 then once it hit the very warm Gulf waters, it rapidly intensified to a cat5. The relationship between climate change and hurricanes is still murky but there is considerable evidence that at least in some parts of the world, hurricanes will tend to be stronger than they've been in the past.

Posted by: Ian S on May 10, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Katrina made landfall as a Cat 3, but it was considerable stronger beforehand. Also it was just one of a series of unusually powerful hurricanes barreling through the Caribbean that season.

Plus, the botched response highlighted how useless the Bush administration is as dealing with anything other than lying, breaking the law, and shoveling money to themselves. It was the beginning of the end of the myth the the Republicans were any good at security issues.

Posted by: jimBOB on May 10, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me, can we please talk about more important issues than global warming? Such as Jenna Bush's wedding! Yee haw!!!

Posted by: Barbara Bush on May 10, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"So why bother splicing the tape dishonestly?"

Because they're not bright enough to understand what Gore is saying, and their viewers aren't bright enough either.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on May 10, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"So why bother splicing the tape dishonestly?"

Because they're not bright enough to understand what Gore is saying.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on May 10, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Katrina made landfall as a strong Cat 3 hurricane, hardly a superstorm, and the bulk of the damage to New Orleans was done not by Katrina itself, but by the breaching of poorly built levees. That had nothing to do with global warming.

Katrina caused much more destruction in Mississippi (and Alabama and Lousisna) than Camille did. Camille was most definitely a Cat 5 hurricane. Katrina may have weakened before landfall but the storm surge created while in the Gulf as a Cat 5 was far larger than the surge of the faster moving Camille.

Katrina was a really bad storm, don't fool yourself.

Posted by: milo on May 10, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

The dishonesty of Bozell et. al. is compulsive-- what we liberals allude to as a paraphilia.

Posted by: MattF on May 10, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

It takes an understanding of basic scientific concepts like the difference between climate and weather and the relationship between heat and energy (which wingers don't have) to realize the need for immediate action to combat global climate change.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 10, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"poor developing countries that are going to pay most of the price"

Noe I know why this is not a Republican issue. Poor = Unworthy of life to Republicans. Survival of the richest.

Posted by: Mario on May 10, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

The ASEAN secretary-general blamed the particularly high death toll on destruction of mangrove forests, not global warming:


Of course he could be wrong. And perhaps the storm was particularly strong. But it's a bit pathetic that we just blame everything on global warming. It's the sound bite of the decade.

Posted by: wab on May 10, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Not so fast on the hurricane/AGW connection. The scientist who made a big splash in the summer of 2005 by having a paper published which showed that the increase of PDI (power dissipation index, a measure of the energy released by a hurricane) was linked to global warming, Kerry Emmanuel, recently had a new paper published. The new paper involved seeding a regional climate model with tropical waves and seeing how they developed. The results were equivicol. Some basins had more storms, some less, some storms were stronger (on average) and some were weaker (on average). Needless to say the problem needs more research.

Posted by: John Sully on May 10, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know. I think we'll eventually have to give up New Orleans and Europe will have to give up a lot of low lying areas. So in that respect Katrina was a symbolic.

And it was in fact a huge storm (largest ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico) . . . and Category 3 status at landfall sort of belies the huge diameter of the low pressure zone and consequential storm surge.

Posted by: B on May 10, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

wab, we don't blame everything on global warming. Indeed, we hardly even talk about it except for your side's reflexive debunking of it. If, as most climate scientists think, it's going to have catastrophic consequences, it might help to actually worry about this. But then, conservatism might have to engage this world as opposed to a project in contrarianism.

Posted by: walt on May 10, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Gore was careful to acknowledge that no individual storm can be blamed on global warming, but he followed that up by saying that global warming is responsible for a trend toward more powerful storms and that the Burma cyclone is an example of that."

Which is one hundred percent correct. The fact that any given "individual storm" forms in a particular place, at a particular time, and follows a particular path, cannot be attributed to global warming. But the fact that the average size, power and duration of storms that do form has increased and will continue to increase, is directly attributable to global warming. More powerful storms like Katrina, Rita and Nargis are exactly what we can expect as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming.

Kevin wrote: "That kind of talk was all over the place after Hurricane Katrina even though it made little sense in that case."

That is one hundred percent incorrect. Katrina had lost considerable strength after passing over Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, but then the abnormally warm waters of the Gulf -- a direct consequence of anthropogenic global warming -- reenergized Katrina into a monster storm. To the extent that Katrina fed on the extra energy supplied by the Gulf's abnormally warm waters, anthropogenic global warming was a direct contributing factor to the destruction of New Orleans.

The increase in the average size, strength and duration of tropical cyclones over the last half-century is an empirically observed reality; it has a strong correlation with empirically observed anthropogenic global warming; and the mechanism by which anthropogenic global warming fuels bigger, more powerful storms is well understood.

Anthropognic global warming has caused, and will cause, an increase in the destructive potential of hurricanes and cyclones. This is a fact.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 10, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

With even the modest sea level rise that we've already experienced, a nasty hurricane could do considerable damage to the Virginia, New Jersey and New York City coastal areas. So don't think we're immune from such damage and loss of life.

Jeffery McNeely thinks the horrible loss in Mynamar is the direct result of the cutting of the protective mangrove forests there.

What protects the coasts near you?


Posted by: slanted tom on May 10, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

But Global Warming stopped -so it can't be responsible.
(end sarcanol)

Comparing Katrina to Cammile is a bit disingenuous the later storm was very intense, but of very small diameter. An F4 tornado is much more intense than a Cat 5 hurricane, but we don't expect to see as much damage, because the area affected is much smaller.

Some research (climate models of course) show that GW should increase sheer in the Atlantic hurricane basin. Wind sheer is the enemy of hurricanes, just as warm water is their friend. Since Americans only care/notice Atlantic storms, thats all that matters to us. If nastier storms hit in other parts of the world, -especially parts with cultures that we would find alien to us, they don't make us feel bad. They allow us to feel good about ourselves by sending relief.

Posted by: bigTom on May 10, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that global warming raises water levels in two ways.

One is the glacier melt, and the icecap melt off dry land (the Arctic Ocean melt has no effect).

The second is that water expands as it warms. A subtle but nonetheless measurable additional effect.

It's all Bush's fault.

In some bonus scatblogging — San Francisco voters have the chance to name a sewer plant after Bush!

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on May 10, 2008 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
What protects the coasts near you?
The summer homes and marinas of more wealthy people! Elevation is what protects me personally - I'll sit up and start to freak out a little if there's a 100 ft. storm surge predicted.
Since Americans only care/notice Atlantic storms, thats all that matters to us.
Kevin - is this true?

Posted by: kenga on May 10, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

"...we're the ones warming the globe but it's poor developing countries that are going to pay most of the price."

Wow. I've seen Jewish guilt, I have a bit of Catholic guilt, so I think I am right when I call that liberal guilt.

We presumably means Americans. Since American technology created the medicines that caused the population boom in the Third World after WWII, why not just agonize over bringing them into this cruel world in the first place?

Posted by: Bob M on May 10, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kev, Im glad to see you blogging today! During a frenzied morning I was worried that you might have been attending the Jenna Bush wedding!

Posted by: troglodyte on May 10, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

"So why bother splicing the tape dishonestly?"

I don't expect any thing less from people who hate Moms.

Posted by: Mazurka on May 10, 2008 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hold your horses on eating up the comment at 4:12 hook, line, and sinker-- just because a study looks for evidence a broader phenomenon in one little detailed area one might theorize the broader phenomenon might effect, and doesn't find it, doesn't mean the broader phenomenon is disproven. It just means that phenomena that are newly emerging in the world's climate, are complicated, and are effected by many factors, did not happen to show up in that sample. Rather than showing that there isn't global warming or that global warming doesn't change how storms manifest at all, the lesson we can take from the study is simply that the results of that particular study didn't show evidence of it. In other words, just because you find one baseball team in the major leagues that doesn't walk hitters intentionally, doesn't mean that no baseball teams anywhere walk hitters intentionally.

Posted by: Swan on May 10, 2008 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's no accident that a large proportion of global warming deniers are also supporters of Intelligent Design. T

That's because there is a common Bibical fundamentalist belief underneath both that God is responsible for everything: God made human beings, and He also made the Earth so that it couldn't be damaged by uncontrolled capitalism.

Posted by: bob the chimp on May 10, 2008 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

I offer two substantial items of proof that global warming is bunk:

1. Rush had to wear a windbreaker when he went out for a walk this morning in Florida.
2. There was a hurricane in Galveston in 1900.

What more do you need? Al Gore is a flake who said he invented the Internet.

Posted by: ditto head on May 10, 2008 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hold your horses ... hook, line, and sinker

Avoid cliches like the plague.

In other words, just because you find one baseball team in the major leagues that doesn't walk hitters intentionally, doesn't mean that no baseball teams anywhere walk hitters intentionally.

The bad analogy police are here, and would like to speak with you.

Posted by: stupid white bird on May 10, 2008 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

In a study published last August in the journal Science, U.K. researchers said:

"A common criticism of global climate models . . . has been that they only include factors such as solar radiation, atmospheric aerosols and greenhouse gases, which are affected by changes outside the climate system (while neglecting) internal climate change variability that arises from natural changes from within the system, like El Nino, fluctuations in ocean circulation and anomalies in ocean heat content."

Understanding the ocean's effect on climate took a quantum leap forward in 2003 when the first of 3,000 new automated ocean buoys were deployed, a significant improvement over earlier buoys that took their measurements mostly at the ocean's surface.

The new buoys, known as Argos, drift along the world's oceans at a depth of about 6,000 feet constantly monitoring the temperature, salinity, and speed of ocean currents. Every 10 days or so a bladder inflates, bringing them to the surface as they take their readings at various depths.

Once on the surface, they transmit their readings to satellites that retransmit them to land-based computers.

The Argos buoys have disappointed global warming alarmists in that they have failed to detect any signs of imminent climate change. As Dr. Josh Willis noted in an interview with National Public Radio, "there has been a very slight cooling" over the buoy's five years of observation.

Posted by: neill on May 10, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

SocraticGadfly, you are correct about the 2 different ways GW affects sea level.

What's interesting is that most people only consider the melting ice as a source of sea level rises, when all of the measurable increases so far and the only increases included in the estimates from the latest IPCC report are from seawater expanding as it warms.

Melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica was included in the sea level estimates from earlier reports but was expected be only a small part of the total increases. It was left out of the estimates from the most recent reports because new data from Greenland and Antartica make the effect much more uncertain. It could still be minimal as previously predicted but could also turn out to be very large.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 10, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Neill, congrats of throwing out the latest sham denialist misinformation.

Here's the answer to that bit of smoke:

Where do all these people come from?

Google results featuring Neill's same wording (The Argos Buoys have disappointed global warming...') in many hits:


Posted by: djangone on May 10, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Neill, your comments about the results from the Argos buoys are out of date.

For an updated report, see:


This is a common pattern for the GW deniers. Grab hold of every bit of data that seems to contradict GW and trumpet as loudly and widely as possible before it has been fully reviewed, continue to cite it long after it has been thoroughly discounted or incorporated into GW models, while continuously accusing those who are concerned about GW of working with incomplete data.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 10, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Swan: Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Posted by: on May 10, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

I see djangone was faster of the mark responding to neill, well done.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 10, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Cyclone Nargis was not an early season storm; to the contrary it came during the bimodal peak of the north Indian Ocean tropical cyclone season. The north Indian Ocean season peaks during spring, ahead of the summer monsoon, and again in the fall, as the summer monsoon dies. Wind shear is too great for tropical cyclone formation during the summer monsoon season and its winter counterpart.

What makes Nargis unusual is the path it took; most cyclones in the north Indian Ocean move more or less north, not west; that is why Bangladesh suffers more catastrophic cyclones (measured by loss of life) than any other region on Earth. See the cyclones 1970 and 1991. http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/deadlyworld.asp

Posted by: Michael Masinter on May 10, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Whoops; proofing is not my strong suit. What makes Nargis unusual is its abrupt turn to the east, not west. Tropical cyclones at that latitude conventionally track west to north around the periphery of the subtropical high, and only rarely turn east. Sorry about that.

Posted by: Michael Masinter on May 10, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

thanks for the update on the argo buoy data.

however, to clarify, lymen's initial conclusions are not disproven. we simply have to await the re-evaluation of the data owing to the anomaly discovered.

Posted by: neill on May 10, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

interesting trend lines on these temperature graphs....


Posted by: neill on May 10, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

What are the pictures of? Burma or LA? Where and when?

Posted by: Stewart Dean on May 10, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong, the conclusion that total ocean thermal engergy is decreasing is contradicted by measurable thermal expansion (i.e. sea level rising as the ocean warms).

The main value of the Argos data will be to provide more precise and comprehensive data to determine the rate of warming, how the heat is distributed and to what degree ocean heat absorption is offseting atmospheric warming.

P.S. If you are just going to keep throwing out every anti-GW talking point w/o bother to check them out elsewhere, there is no point in continuing to respond, but in response to the extremely dishonest report from wattsupwiththat, see this:


Posted by: tanstaafl on May 10, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

I have some encouraging news on this rainy Saturday evening - Vincent Bugliosi, of Helter Skelter fame wants Bush tried for mass murder. Things are looking up!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 10, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK


he has a point regarding the graphs charting a period beginning and ending with the nino/nina cycle not necessarily being representative.

but his use of the 30-year graph, which clearly flattens out over time, doesn't seem to me to be supportive of the theory that expanding CO2 emissions correlate with rising temperatures.

please educate me on this point.

Posted by: neill on May 10, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

What is very interesting to me is the certainty that is expressed here that GW causes stronger storms. Its really a very, very, difficult problem. The fact that there is so much certainty expressed on this unknown consequence is one of the reasons I doubt GW in the first place. When will you people realize that your hatred of George Bush and Republicans drives you to take irrational positions.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 10, 2008 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

The scientists who are studying the AGW/Hurricane link are anything but certain of the connection. Studying this aspect of the climate is difficult because the only decent data we have is post 1970, which is a very short time to detect trends or changes in climate. In addition as our data collection techniques get better it may be possible that we are classifying more storms as major (Cat 3,4 and 5) hurricanes. As a first cut though, theory suggests that warmer oceans should lead to more intense storms, and that does seem to be the case in the North Atlantic basin. Worldwide, the question is still very much up in the air.

Just because some people are much more sure of points such as the AGW/Hurricane link than the evidence indicates is no reason to doubt AGW. Their knowledge is mostly based on news reports, and science reporting is notoriously bad in all fields, not just in climate science.


Lyman has retracted the conclusions section of his paper after working with the ARGO reanalysis data. You need to keep up with the latest in the science if you are going to impress anyone here. BTW, you should read this blog to find out what is wrong with Watt's Up With That's analysis of several recent climate trends. Basically Anthony Watts is a TV weatherman with no experience in statistics and the analysis pieces he publishes a at best poorly done and at worst deceptive.

Posted by: John Sully on May 10, 2008 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK


Yeah it's complex, but I'm not sure it's worth arguing about public perceptions. The reality is that hurricane damage will increase as relative sea level rise, wetland destruction, and population increase in coastal areas makes us more susceptible.

There is a lot of detail of interest to academics but I'm not sure you're going to get anyone to listen to pure deniers after the next Arctic summer.

Posted by: B on May 10, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

When will you people realize that your hatred of George Bush and Republicans drives you to take irrational positions.

Oh fuck off, Hansen.

We'll stop believing in global warming when the globe stops getting warmer, when the glaciers stop melting at a rate no one thought possible, when the snowpack on mountain ranges all over the world stops disappearing, when the historic and catastrophic worldwide droughts cease, when massive tree dieoffs due to pest-related warming cease, when species stop their warming induced migrations and extinctions - et al.

Until and unless those things stop happening we'll stick with the actual science, thanks. You're free to stick to your pseudo-scientific borderline personality disorder induced view of the universe, where anyone who doesn't share your very peculiar and absolutely unprovable opinions must be crazy.

And by opinions I mean not only your childish notions about science, but the naked racism and bigotry that you have displayed in your posts here in the past.

Posted by: trex on May 10, 2008 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen: When will you people realize that your hatred of George Bush and Republicans drives you to take irrational positions.

Some of us were talking, and worrying about GW long before we even heard of GWB.

Posted by: thersites on May 10, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK


it is NOT disproven, dear sir. show me exactly how it is, please.

and please, while you're at it - because rising sea levels have been raised as a key point - explain how/why sea levels in sinking areas of the globe like venice, holland, etc., are showing no evidence of this. and observational evidence, please, not computer models, which can be be worked in innumerable ways to suits GW purposes.

please, show me that you DON'T ALREADY have the answer, and are grasping for computer models that support your THEORY/ANSWER/POLICY/TICKET TO POWER.

Posted by: neill on May 10, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

In the Fall of 2006, I read an article that reported that the Atlantic waters were cooler than normal, while the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean waters were warmer than normal.

I predicted, therefore, that in the 2007 hurricane season, tropical systems originating in the Atlantic to the east of Florida would have a tough time forming into Category 4/5 hurricanes, but if any headed west across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, then we'd have another Hurricane Katrina on our hands. This didn't happen, because all the tropical systems that started in the Atlantic stayed there, finally petering out, with all being below Category 3.

However, I also predicted that any tropical systems that started far enough south in the Atlantic and tracked into the Caribbean on its way to the Gulf of Mexico would end up being monster, Category 5 hurricanes. Two of these occurred, both hitting Mexico, both Category 5.

So, Al Gore was right on the money, as are global warming scientists, when saying that rising temperatures in the oceans, especially in the tropics, will increase the likelihood that monstrous hurricanes or cyclones will develop.

And the Atlantic, which is cooler than normal? I figure the cooling of the Atlantic waters, especially further north, is directly related to the melting of the Greenland icepack and Arctic ice to the north of the Gulf Stream. All this cold melt-off is slowly seeping into the Gulf Stream, lowering the temperatures out in the Atlantic, and lower ocean temperatures are not conducive to hurricane formation, or at least these cooler temperatures would dampen any monstrous Category 4/5 hurricanes from forming.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the 2008 hurricane season looks like, but if this warming/cooling trend continues, then this pattern will continue. The devastating Myanmmar cyclone is just another indication of what coastal residents, located anywhere, can expect in upcoming years as global warming continues, unchecked.

Posted by: The Oracle on May 11, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

why is antarctic ice actually expanding?

the ice on kilanmanjaro melting?
(might have something to do with the de-rainforestation at it's base which reduces moisture)

according to geological record, the medieval warming period (warming significantly higher than currently) DIDN'T result in higher sea levels. WHY NOT? perhaps the planet has a temperature balancing act that significantly involves ocean currents? could it be???


and guess what. if you're a scientist that honestly doesn't support the FACT of GW.

You lose your grant.

The politization of science.

Open up honey, here it comes. Enjoy.

Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK


You should read this article which explains the problems which were found in the ARGO data subsequent to the publication of Lyman, et. al. (2007). When the corrected data were used, the cooling trend disappeared.

Be sure to follow, read, and understand the material at the link before spouting off once again.

Posted by: John Sully on May 11, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I love the "Venice is drying up" argument used by global warming deniers. who obviously can't tell the difference between weather and climate, between relatively localized phenomenon and things happening on a global scale...that impact local phenomenon.

The globe is warming, and has warmed appreciably over the past one hundred years. This is a scientific fact. Our atmosphere is heating up, on a global scale, which is leading to the melting of a whole lot of ice, both at the poles and even at high altitudes. This is a fact.

But the deniers roll out one specious argument after another in an attempt to confuse, distract or divert attention from these scientific facts, which if left unaddressed will cause massive hardship in upcoming years for millions (if not billions of people), especially if the rise in global temperatures continue to increase, and the world's ice keeps melting, often at an accelerated rate, as scientists are discovering.

So, I don't buy the "Venice is drying up" argument, unless taken in conjunction with the world's icepacks are "drying up," that is, melting at an increasingly alarming rate. Dry ground is still dry ground, whether that ground was recently covered by water or ice. Duh, maybe there's a connection?

Posted by: The Oracle on May 11, 2008 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

and just for the record, I do not dispute climate CHANGE.

The climate has been CHANGING since there's been a climate.

it's the anthropomorphic part of it that just seems cock-eyed.

if global temperatures have have been flat for a decade, how do EXPLODING co2 emissions square with that?

Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Neill, the problem with people like you is that when you bring up one point and it is disproven, you just bring up another false one, and so on. You have an unlimited supply of mistaken arguments, and so you can go on forever.

But how about responding to my comment above about biblicism? Do you believe in intelligent design? Do you believe that the Bible tells us that God made the world so that it would be safe for capitalism to do anything it wants? And if you don't believe all that, then what do you think of the millions of Americans (all of them Bush supporters) who do?

Posted by: bobo the chimp on May 11, 2008 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

John Hansen: When will you people realize that your hatred of George Bush and Republicans drives you to take irrational positions.

How does being opposed to ignorant stupid assholes imply or in any way suggest or require an irrational position? Hmmmm... unless I suppose you have an immutable frame of reference (apologies to Newton) of an ignorant stupid asshole.

Posted by: has407 on May 11, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

read it again, sully.

it's bs.

basically, it says even when the lymen data is re-evaluated it's not conclusive until it's merged into other existing data.

but the other data is already compromised: you deliver up something in line with 'accepted' GW or your grant is pulled.

You all have already fucked up the scientific process.

Heil, GW.

Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

When you rule the academy, the media, the legislature, the executive branch....

you are RESPONSIBLE for everything.


[your conspiracy theory thread spamming is no longer going to be tolerated - mod.]

Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

More to do with our appetite for cheap shrimp than global warming.

Posted by: SAO on May 11, 2008 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

The Oracle,

Congratulations, you made a lucky guess. In 2007 upper level wind shear tore many incipient hurricanes apart, conditions were not favorable for development. It was this, and not the fact that waters in the MDR (main development region) were exceptionally cool (they weren't). I suspect that the 2008 season will be more active and the PDI will be higher since wind conditions should not be influenced by El Nino this year. The seasonal forecasts should be out in the next couple of weeks so we'll see what the experts think.

Note that I am not denying that there may be a link between hurricane intensity and AGW, Emmanuel's recent paper showed that an increase in PDI for the North Atlantic basin is to be expected. Observations seem to bear this out; Emmanuel's 2005 paper covered the North Atlantic basin only and definitely showed this relationship. Extending this observation to all of the TS basins on the planet is more questionable and the evidence is still out on this.


The Antarctic sea ice extent is larger, but I am not sure about sea ice area (these are two different measures). The interior of Antarctica does seem to be cooling slightly, but West Antarctica and the Antarctic penninsula are warming quite rapidly. In addition we have witnessed several collapses of large ice sheets in Antartica recently, this no doubt is contributing to increased sea ice (sorry, this is just speculation on my part, no link can be provided). An important thing to note is that there is no statisticly significant trend in Antarctic sea ice extent.

As far as the situation with Kilimanjaro is well discussed in this article. Once again, the evidence on this is still out.

Finally, the MWP appears to not have been a worldwide phenomenon, but rather was restricted to Northern Europe. At best temperatures during this period were about equal to the 20th century mean, so any claim that temperatures were much higher than currently are specious at best. Here, read this and follow the links.

Posted by: John Sully on May 11, 2008 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

Well let me channel the Bushes and the right-wing in general for a moment, on how they will happily incorporate this into their climate change fantasies:

"There are too many poor darkies over there anyway, if they got killed off because of global warming instead of us God-fearing Americans, then that's only a positive!"

Posted by: MNPundit on May 11, 2008 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Breached levies may have little to do with global warming but they have everything to do with global warming denialism and the winger priorities that come with that and anti-science attitudes like it.

Don't let the winger thinking of the hook so fast. As a rule of thumb they really are somewhat to blame for most deaths that make the news. Wise man once said: "wingers sure are weird"

Posted by: rt on May 11, 2008 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

You simply *cannot* attribute any single cyclone to global warming. Big cyclones have always happened periodically throughout history -- cyclones bigger than this one in Burma:


If you want to attribute this Burma cyclone to global warming, please tell us why you do not associate any of these other past, big cyclones with global warming?

Posted by: David Appell on May 11, 2008 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

no one seems eager to take up exactly how flat global temperatures over the past decade support the theory that expanding c02 emissions correlate with rising temperatures.


Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Ye who place your faith in science are really no different from the "ignorant" Bible-thumpers. Your CERTAINTY is based on MYTH. The science on global warming, like so much science past and present, is bogus. It is based on STATISTICS, for god's sake! (Come on, if statistics actually worked there'd be no betting on baseball because the winning teams would be known years in advance, and insurance companies would own the world.)

Since Aristotle, at least, the scientifically minded have been positing Great Truths, which are later revealed to be absurd. (Revealed religion, on the other hand, is honest: it starts with an acknowledged absurdity, demands the willing suspension of disbelief, i.e., "faith", and goes from there.) Great Truths start and end with geometry.

We don't know much about the climate, but what we do know (we think) is that the globe has warmed and cooled, independently of human inputs, by orders of magnitude not presently seen.

The conceit that humans are jacking the climate arises from hubris --- just like religion. Because it's all about us, n'est-ce pas?

All of which would make no never mind except that someday people will start killing people, lots of people, to "save the planet." Onward, soldiers of Science!

Posted by: JeremiadJones on May 11, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: jared on May 11, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Come on, if statistics actually worked there'd be no betting on baseball because the winning teams would be known years in advance, and insurance companies would own the world.)"

Thank you for confirming that you know absolutely nothing. As a result, we can laugh at your post as the nonsensical ramblings of a moron rather than pretending you're making a serious point.

Posted by: PaulB on May 11, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you've missed one of the biggest impacts of this storm, and how it tracks with what we'll see if/when global mean temperatures and sea level rise.
Mangrove losses are certainly a factor in what I'm talking about, as will coastal estuary and other wetland losses in other regions.
It's right there in the satellite imagery, and the before and after looks pretty clear.
Some of the low-lying areas were extensively flooded by the massive storm surge.
Parts of those area are gone now. GONE, and irreclaimable. The land mass is smaller.
Look at the coastal areas that are light brown, and look at the shading in the coastal waters in the before picture.
Then look at the after picture - you can see water in the inland areas that used to be light brown.
Note the large areas of light green/blue now off the coast, that are significantly bigger and further out than in the before picture. That used to be the light brown stuff - huge amounts of soil in the low-lying areas are now in the ocean - they have been washed out as the storm surge flooding heads back to sea and instead of being part of the land mass, are now part of the seabed. And now the sea extends further inland than it used to. Much of that water will flow back to the ocean, but it will take soil with it in most cases. Some will simply evaporate - but now the soil which remains will have a lot of salt.
From an agriculture perspective, this is an unmitigated disaster - there is less area for farming, and much of what remains has been poisoned by salt.
I'll be pleasantly surprised if the country doesn't experience significant famines over the coming decades as a result.

Posted by: kenga on May 11, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

name-calling is unseemly, especially while worshiping at the altar of politicized "science".

Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

I drive so little that I just quit doing it and I left a left turn traffic ticket on the books.

Al Gore and his government bureacrats have already burned $200 of gas trying to collect my ticket fee when I was only using about $150 in gas per year.

This is the point Al Gore doesn't get, many of the people wasting gas are exactly those people he gave permission to waste gas some eight years ago when he was a politician. He needs a lot of fake greenery to absorb all the co2 permits he gave out during his political years.

Posted by: Matt on May 11, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Tell Biloxi that Katrina wasn't as impressive as the one that hit Burma.

Posted by: searcy on May 11, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I see a pattern here:

When there is a big storm it must be due to global warming.
When we have an abnormally cool month like this April its just a minor fluctuation on the overall trend.
The bottom line is that drawing conclusions or even inferences from rare events is a fool's game.

Posted by: bfr on May 11, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Dang, neill really brought the crazy to this thread, didn't he? I'm surprised he hasn't started talking about the black helicopters hovering over his house.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 11, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

bfr, you're confused about who thinks what. There are people who get all excited about one storm, or one cool month, but those aren't scientists. Even the fact that there were three storms in the top six in one year is not "evidence", but it sure as heck got my attention. It was damn unusual.

And, do note that "global climate change" does not predict that there will be no more cold months; instead, it predicts that things will, on average (averaged over both time and geography) get warmer. That, we are seeing now -- spring arriving sooner, permafrost melting, arctic ice cap melting, glaciers receding. There's also a prediction that perhaps the Gulf Stream will shut down, which would make Northern Europe dramatically colder, even though other places were warmer.

Hurricanes fit into the model oddly. To the extent that global warming warms up the ocean, WHERE it warms up the ocean, if you get a hurricane there, it will be (all else equal) be stronger. Someone above mentioned that the models predict stronger Atlantic wind shear, which tends to inhibit hurricanes, and that may happen, but that's a very particular detail to pick out of the climate models. Katrina/Wilma/Rita were significant w.r.t. global warming, in the sense that, when the oceans are even a few degrees warmer, when you get storms, they'll blow up like that. Or, when a storm strays north, perhaps the Atlantic is not quite so cold, and it will retain its warm-water engine into higher latitudes.

Posted by: dr2chase on May 11, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Curious how the media is jumping all over Burma for handling the crisis in a mean-spirited amlost criminally negligent manner. I mean look at what they've done: they started by preventing their own people from going in with food and supplies. They stopped their own military from providing assistance. Of course they rejected any hints of aid from other countries. And while local militias and police departments used the threat of gunfire to prevent victims from leaving the area--even on foot--the leader of the country announced that his emergency team leader was doing a "Heckuva job."

Oh wait. Wrong disaster.

OK, I'll admit it. I'm still furious about what the criminally-negligent Bush and his cronies did (and didn't do) in the aftermath of Katrina. To know there were US Navy ships that were ready and able just off shore--sitting there waiting for the order from the Commander in Chief that would let them provide assistance ... an order That Never Came. Have we all forgotten about FEMA Turning Away Trucks that tried to carry water into the city? Make no mistake--there were heroes during Katrina--people who came to the aid of their fellow man in acts of mercy for which there can never be enough thanks. But the resources were too little, too late, and--most astinoshing of all--constrained by an ignorant bunch of cronies who didn't know their jobs, didn't know that that they didn't know, and were too ignorant to turn things over to people who had experience.

Curious indeed.

Posted by: curious on May 11, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

curious, the US did NOT reject aid from other countries.

Wikipedia is your God. (With sources! Check 'em!)

Posted by: on May 11, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Katrina was an excellent example of population migration that would be forced by climate change. Thousands of people left New Orleans before and after that storm; many will never return. The reasons that the storm destroyed portions of the city are multifactorial as are all great disasters. Oddly enough, had the Bush administration provided aid and support similar to what Johnson provided after Betsy, Katrina wouldn't be considered such a harbinger of climate change. But then LA might still be a blue state rather than a red state.

Posted by: rk on May 11, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Roy Spencer:

Climate modelers and researchers generally believe that an increase in the greenhouse effect from manmade greenhouse gases causes a warming effect that is similar to that from an increase in sunlight.

I believe that this is incorrect.

It is now reasonably certain that changes in solar radiation cause temperature changes on Earth. For instance, the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo caused a 2% to 4% reduction in sunlight, resulting in two years of below normal temperatures, especially over Northern Hemisphere land areas.

But the Earth's natural greenhouse effect (again, mostly from water vapor and clouds) is under the control of weather systems -- especially precipitation systems -- which are generated in response to solar heating. Either directly or indirectly, those precipitation systems determine the moisture (water vapor and cloud) characteristics for most of the rest of the atmosphere.

Precipitation systems could, theoretically, cause a much warmer climate on Earth than is currently observed. They could allow more water vapor to build up in the atmosphere, but they don't. Why not?

The reason must ultimately be related to precipitation processes. I believe that precipitation systems act as a thermostat, reducing the Earth's greenhouse effect (and thus causing enhanced cooling) when temperatures get too high, and warming when temperatures get too low. It is amazing to think that the ways in which tiny water droplets and ice particles combine in clouds to form rain and snow could determine the course of global warming, but this might well be the case.

I believe that it is the inadequate handling of precipitation systems -- specifically, how they adjust atmospheric moisture contents during changes in temperature -- that is the reason for climate model predictions of excessive warming from increasing greenhouse gas emissions. To believe otherwise is to have faith that climate models are sufficiently advanced to contain all of the important processes that control the Earth's natural greenhouse effect.

I predict that further research will reveal some other cause for most of the warming we have experienced since the 1970's -- for instance, a change in some feature of the sun's activity; or, a small change in cloudiness resulting from a small change in the general circulation of the atmosphere (such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, 'PDO'). In the meantime, a high priority research effort should be the study of changes in precipitation systems with changes in temperature -- especially how they control global water vapor and cloud amounts.

Fortunately, we now have several NASA satellites in Earth orbit that are gathering information that will be immensely valuable for determining how the Earth's climate system adjusts during natural temperature fluctuations. It is through these satellite measurements of temperature, solar and infrared radiation, clouds, and precipitation that we will be able to test and improve the climate models, which will then hopefully lead to more confident predictions of global temperatures.

And what do the satellites tell us about recent global temperature variations? In Fig. 9, I have arbitrarily picked the period since 1990 to show that there has been recent warming, but that warming certainly would not be characterized as 'gradual'. When one takes into consideration that the cooling from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the warming from the 1997-98 El Nino event were not part of any underlying long-term trend, we can imagine that globally-averaged temperatures were flat from 1990 until 2000, then there was a brief warming until about 2002, after which temperatures have once again remained flat. Note that the longer temperatures remain flat the greater the warming that will be required to put us back 'on track' to match the climate model projections used by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The coming months and years should be interesting.

Posted by: neill on May 11, 2008 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Precipitation cools the earth? How?

The critic at MIT proposed that changes in cloudiness have the effect of opening up more of the surface to outward radiation.

Unless you theory explains how heat is moved up and out faster, your precipitation theory is bogus. Simply moving heat around with water is not sufficient.

Posted by: Matt on May 12, 2008 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK


Unfortunate Roy Spencer ignored the latent heat of condensation... Low clouds may act as a thermostat, but there is no real evidence to support that. Spencer's atatement is just basically a retelling of the Lindzen "tropical iris" hypothesis which has been well studied and discarded by the climate science community.

Sorry for feeding the trolls, I just had to point this out.

Posted by: John Sully on May 12, 2008 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK


I assume that you are secure in the adequacy of current computer models to provide insight into the complex workings of our atmosphere, especially in regard to the nature of heat transfer through water in its different states, that these insights will support environmental policy decisions that will positively support the livelihood and security of every man, woman and child on this plant for decades to come.

Am I correct?

If so, I assume these same computer models would have also anticipated that global temperatures would have been essentially flat over the past decade, such that similar policies could have been formulated.

Am I correct on that point?

Was the essentially flat global temperature over the past decade anticipated?

Posted by: neill on May 12, 2008 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Low clouds may act as a thermostat, but there is no real evidence to support that."

This clearly demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding of the nature of the probelm. Shocking.

And you propose to chart the future of the human race?

Posted by: neill on May 12, 2008 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK


Now that the month of April is history, and its obvious the mainstream media has ignored this, I will share it with you. A fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient is part of a group asking the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change to admit that there is no observational evidence in measured data going back 22,000 years or even millions of years that CO2 levels (whether from man or nature) have driven or are driving world temperatures.

The letter states If you believe there IS evidence of the CO2 driver theory in the available data, please present a graph of it. We draw your attention to three observational refutations of the IPCC position (and note there are more.) Ice-core data from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment shows that temperatures have fallen since around 4,000 years ago, while CO2 levels have risen, yet, this graphical data was conveniently left out of the IPCC Summery for Policymakers.

More recent data shows that in the opposite sense to IPCC predictions, world temperatures have not risen, and indeed have fallen over the past ten years while CO2 levels have risen dramatically.

Posted by: neill on May 12, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

and while you're at it, IPCC, how bout some OBSERVATIONAL data that actually support your rising sea level predictions.

something along the lines of Dr. Morner's 2004 FIELD study of the Maldives, or his other investigations, which finds nothing of the sort.

22 authors of the sea level portion of the 2007 IPCC and not ONE of them is a sea level specialist?

Posted by: neill on May 12, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

How naive can you be, Kevin, when you even have to ask the question, Why does Brent Bozell do anything? He does the things he does because that's his job.

Posted by: Historian on May 12, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

how did this global warmin bs get started? to warm the earth, you have warm up the oceans. the oceans arent't any hotter now, than in the early 70's, when everyone was worried abt global freezin. remember that? there are a few makin money off of this, and scarin ppl.

Posted by: on May 13, 2008 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

i am a liberal, vote dem every time, but i hate bad science

Posted by: on May 13, 2008 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK



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