Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fixing the wrong problem solves nothing

Today, on the vigil of Easter 2007 (springtime), in south Texas I am watching the thermometer drop to all time low temperatures. This morning's high was 51 F at 5:00 this morning. Nine hours later the temperature is down to 43.3 F and still falling. Winter storm watches and the chance of sleet and possibly snow have been posted for areas of Houston north of I-10. I know the temperature is even lower in the Hill Country near Austin and the area north and west into the Texas panhandle.

As a child I remember a few times where it snowed on Easter. I especially remember my Dad driving through a blizzard Easter morning to visit my grandparents in Irvington, NJ. That's New Jersey, not Texas! The temperatures here are currently 30 degrees below normal. Several areas in Georgia are expected to drop into the 20's and set new low records.

Yet the IPCC has issued another report pointing out that Global Warming is real and is happening right now. Excuse me for being skeptical. While some people point to the mild first half of winter in the US north east, I look at the very cold winter in the northwest, NW Canada, Europe and the 2nd half of winter in the northeastern US. I look at the data that says that current warming is within historical variations. I look at the global warming conferences and climate change marches that were canceled this year so far because of ice and snow.

Is global warming taking place here and now? Even with the current cold snap I am willing to concede that overall the world may be getting warmer. I do not see any evidence, though, that this warming is man-made. This is the issue. The IPCC report is another gloom and doom tome that points to death and destruction unless Americans and Europeans stop burning oil.

The new report, focusing on the effects of warming, for the first time describes how species, water supplies, ice sheets and regional climate conditions are already responding to the global buildup of heat. While the report said that assessing the causes of regional climate and biological changes was particularly difficult, the authors concluded with “high confidence” — about an 8 in 10 chance — that human-caused warming “over the last three decades has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems.”

At a news conference here, Martin Parry, the co-chairman of the team that wrote the new report, said widespread effects were already measurable, with much more to come.

“We’re no longer arm-waving with models,” he said. “This is empirical information on the ground.”

So the previous studies have been nothing more than arm waving. Models can be valuable tools to understand and predict processes provided that the models are validated with actual observed data. So far the climate models have consistently overpredicted the amount of temperature rise. Additionally, the underlying assumption that CO2 content is the primary driver is an oversimplification. Recent studies are consistently showing that the Sun and cosmic radiation are the primary drivers. China and India are opening up coal burning power plants faster than ever in history that will put out more CO2 and pollutants than the west could ever hope to eliminate.

The fact is that cutting back on CO2 "emissions" will have no effect. The Earth will warm or cool based on its own natural processes.

So what can we do about this? We can attempt another social experiment in the redistribution of wealth. That is the primary drive of the alarmists. This is clear in "Reports from Four Front" (NYTimes)

In almost every instance, the people most at risk from climate change live in countries that have contributed the least to the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to the recent warming of the planet.

Those most vulnerable countries also tend to be the poorest. And the countries that face the least harm — and that are best equipped to deal with the harm they do face — tend to be the richest.


The obligation of the established greenhouse-gas emitters to help those most imperiled by warming derives from the longstanding legal concept that “the polluter pays,” many experts say.

“We have an obligation to help countries prepare for the climate changes that we are largely responsible for,” said Peter H. Gleick, the founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Berkeley, Calif. His institute has been tracking trends like the burst of new desalination plants in wealthy places running short of water.

“If you drive your car into your neighbor’s living room, don’t you owe your neighbor something?” Dr. Gleick said. “On this planet, we’re driving the climate car into our neighbors’ living room, and they don’t have insurance and we do.”

Around the world, there are abundant examples of how wealth is already enabling some countries to gird against climatic and coastal risks, while poverty, geography and history place some of the world’s most crowded, vulnerable regions directly in harm’s way.

If we really want to take action that can make a difference such action must help us to adapt.

Adaption includes:
  • Building levees that incorporate intelligent flood control techniques rather than piles of dirt along the rivers
  • Raising the elevation of cities that are at or below mean sea level by pumping soil and fill under the houses as Galveston did after the Hurricane of 1900 when 6,000 - 12,000 were killed.
  • Construct low cost distillation refineries to purify sea water for drinking water supply in countries where drought is a high probability.
  • Increasing trade with developing countries to help them grow stable, prosperous economies
  • Setting up manufacturing branches in developing countries to supply goods to those countries without depleting the manufacturing base at home.
  • Paying the employees of those companies a fair wage - Hourly wages in the US are equivalent to 20 loaves of bread per hour ($16 - $23/hr). Comparable wages would provide the people with the ability to live comfortably and still keep wages down because a loaf of bread is a lot cheaper in other countries than here.
  • Reducing the tax burden on corporations so that private industry and charities can support the above without government involvement.
"Adapt or Die" should be the rallying cry if the enviros actually wanted to solve a problem. Of course we all know the real agenda.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Very Active' 2007 Hurricane Season

The forecasts for 2007 are already coming in and are even being modified 2 months in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Back in December, Dr. William Gray's team at the University of Colorado originally predicted 14 named storms including 7 hurricanes, three of which are expected to be major (Cat 3+). Today the team revised its predictions upward. Seventeen tropical systems are expected to grow into named storms with nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes.

The increased storm activity includes both an increase in the number of storms and the intensity of those storms. There are two primary causes for this increased activity, the multidecadal oscillation and the presence of La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.

La Nina Brewing, More Hurricanes Possible (live

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the official end of a brief and mild El Nino that started last year. That El Nino was credited with partially shutting down last summer's Atlantic hurricane activity in the midst of what was supposed to be a busy season.

“We're seeing a shift to the La Nina, it's clearly in the data,'' NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher said. La Nina, a cooling of the mid-Pacific equatorial region, has not officially begun because it's a process with several months with specific temperature thresholds, but the trend is obvious based on satellite and ocean measurement data, he said.

“It certainly won't be welcome news for those living off the coast right now,'' Lautenbacher said. But he said that doesn't mean Atlantic seaboard residents should sell their homes.

Forecasters don't know how strong this La Nina will be. However, it typically means more hurricanes in the Atlantic, fewer in the Pacific, less rain and more heat for the already drought-stricken South, and a milder spring and summer in the north, Lautenbacher said. The central plains of the United States tend be drier in the fall during La Ninas, while the Pacific Northwest tends to be wetter in the late fall and early winter.

We discussed this last month when NOAA announced the likely build-up of La Nina conditions:

Developing La Nina means potential for more tropical weather

This year, expect to see a disclaimer in every article discussing the prediction for the 2007 tropical season.

Forecasts for 2006, by Gray's team and another by government meteorologists, also predicted an active hurricane season, but only 10 named storms developed and only 5 of those became hurricanes. By all accounts, the forecasts were wrong. Meteorologists said later on that a strong El Niño event weakened storm activity. The energy from El Niño starts with a huge, warmer-than-normal "bathtub" of seawater that races from west to east in the Pacific and across the continent and eventually results in atmospheric energy that shears the tops off Atlantic storms before they can really intensify.

But forecasters now say that El Niño shouldn’t be a factor this year, so hurricane activity will be enhanced.

The facts are that El Nino is very hard to predict and Dr. Gray's team has been very accurate. The media will hold on to anything that demonstrates that the experts might be wrong. Weather patterns are complex chaotic systems that defy prediction. This forecast is likely to be accurate and we who live on the coast need to be prepared for an active season. If another mild season surprises us then we are so lucky but if we become cavalier then a minor storm could turn into a catastrophe.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

EPA took the wrong position on global warming - and lost

The Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to regulate pollutants. Emissions of air pollutants such as lead, hydrocarbons, CFC's, and other chemicals is not only within the EPA's jurisdiction but is critical to correcting environmental mistakes that have occurred as we have grown as an industrial society.

Pollutants are chemicals that are byproducts or waste products of processes that are harmful to the environment in that they are poisonous to living creatures (including humans) or cause the destruction of the land, atmosphere or water. Webster's Online dictionary lists the definition of a pollutant as

Noun Waste matter that contaminates the water or air or soil
or more specifically,
Generally, any substance introduced into the environment that adversely affects the usefulness of a resource or the health of humans, animals, or ecosystems.. (references)

Physical, chemical or biological substance or factor that produces pollution, nuisance or a danger to health. Source: European Union. (references)
It is on this basis that the statement: "CO2 is not an air pollutant and should not be treated as one," is indeed factual and accurate.

The Bush administration's approach to the challenge posed by the state of Massachusetts was to proclaim that the EPA has no authority to regulate CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gasses. This was a poorly calculated error. Now the SCOTUS has, in a close decision, barged through the door that was left open by the administration. The court decided that the EPA does indeed have the authority as written in the Clean Air Act.

The administration should have argued that CO2 is not a pollutant and expounded on the reasons why. Arguing that CO2 is not within the authority of the EPA allowed the court to accept that CO2 is a pollutant.

Unfortunately, Webster's also lists a scientific definition of a pollutant as:
Strictly, too much of any substance in the wrong place or at the wrong time is a pollutant. More specifically, atmospheric pollution may be defined as the presence of substances in the atmosphere, resulting from man-made activities or from natural processes that cause adverse effects to human health, property, and the environment. (references)
This definition leaves open the ability for those who feel that global warming is man-made and is bad to claim that CO2 is the culprit and must be regulated as a pollutant.

CO2 is an essential trace gas in the atmosphere. There are several greenhouse gasses that contribute to trapping warmth within the atmosphere.

The vapor with the highest concentration is water with a concentration from 0.8% at freezing temperatures to over 3% during the summer.

Carbon dioxide has been measured at approximately 380 ppm (0.03%) . 1/100 th of the concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is the natural, desired, end product of all combustion reaction of organic materials when carried to completion. Basically, everything that burns - volcanoes, wood, paper, oil, gasoline, forests and grasslands - all contribute carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Normal respiration of air breathing animals causes the expulsion of carbon dioxide. Plants both on land and in the water absorb CO2 naturally to create oxygen via photosynthesis.

All regulated sources of pollutants can be controlled from point sources. Carbon dioxide cannot be controlled because the amount of natural sources are too many to count. Carbon dioxide does become a pollutant once it's concentration reaches around 5000 ppm (15 times higher than current values). The reason it is a pollutant at this concentration is because it becomes poisonous and dangerous to life. At 250 - 600 ppm is is essential for life.

The EPA and the Bush administration has committed a grievous error in allowing CO2 to be defined as a pollutant. The effects of this ruling will be far reaching and will have a detrimental impact on our lifestyle. Prices for cars, fuel, all goods that are transported, all transportation, essentially our entire economy will be stifled as unreasonable restrictions on a natural gas that we exhale will have to be controlled even while the effect of such control is unknown and expected to be negligible.

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