May 23, 2006
Those three little words: "Active hurricane season"

Well, I'd say there's good news and bad news in this.

A hectic, above-normal tropical storm season could produce between four and six major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico this year, but conditions don't appear ripe for a repeat of 2005's record activity, the National Hurricane Center predicted today.

There will be up to 16 named storms, the center predicted, which would be significantly less than last year's record 28. Still, people in coastal regions should prepare for the possibility of major storms, said Max Mayfield, the National Hurricane Center director.

"One hurricane hitting where you live is enough to make it a bad season," Mayfield told reporters.

Last year, officials predicted 12 to 15 tropical storms, seven to nine of them becoming hurricanes, and three to five of those hurricanes being major, with winds of at least 111 mph.

But the season turned out to be much busier, breaking records that had stood since 1851. Last season there were 15 hurricanes, seven of which were Category 3 or higher. Eight hurricanes have hit or affected Florida since 2004.

In the center's detailed 2006 prediction report, meteorologists were not forecasting a repeat of last year because water in the Atlantic is not as warm as it was at this stage in 2005. Warm water is a key fuel for hurricane development.

"We do not currently expect a repeat of last year's record season," the forecast says.

Well, that's good. The fact that water temperatures in the Atlantic are not as high as they were at this time last year is good (though my understanding is that the temps in the Gulf of Mexico are higher this year than last, which is not very comforting). And apparently there's supposed to be no influence from El Nino and La Nina this year. That's good, too.

But man. Sixteen predicted storms, compared to 12-15 last year. I don't know if the forecasters have already adjusted outward to make up for their gross underestimation last year, but I sure do hope so. I can't bear the thought of this year being any worse.

UPDATE: More here and here.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 23, 2006 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

Bush Step Down Now Before Hurricane Season, so we can get James Lee Witt and FEMA working again like it did when experts were in charge. Bush's non-expert cronies evidently have ruined FEMA, except for the contracting part that has enriched Bush's cronies.

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on May 23, 2006 1:19 PM

Charles - also note that there is talk of adding a category 6 designation.

Posted by: Aziz on May 23, 2006 1:19 PM

The waves were bigger than expected, suggesting theoretical models of waves whipped up by hurricanes may have to be revised.
"Our results suggest that waves in excess of 90 ft are not rogue waves but actually are fairly common during hurricanes," lead author Dr David Wang, told the BBC News website.

He said that since hurricane activity is predicted to increase over the next few decades, more research like this needs to be carried out.
The 91 ft wave was the largest individual wave measured with instruments in US waters, he added.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Any newer info? This was from last year.

Category 6? More people on the road?

Was Bush trying to privatize the Weather Satellites so that media would play background music as we all washed away?

Bush Step Down Now Before Hurricane Season. Or, Count Kerry's votes now, I want to know if Kerry won because he would save many more lives. Kerry would hire James Lee Witt.

Is the Mayor looking at even more options?

It might just be more humane and less expensive for Houston to now, ahead of time, to help the poor pay for a bus trip to family or friends that would allow pets in donated cages and allow for more than the usual amount of belongins.

What other things might be considered and performed now to reduce what would have to be done later in a larger evacuation event?

Also, the story of the dogs in the back of pickup trucks dying in the heat of the evacution was too sad. But, what happens to people in the back of pickup trucks stalled in heat. Any advice to help people and critters as regards that? Media promote plans to better help survival for people and pets.

And well over 100 people died in that evacuation. With bigger hurricanes, more cars on the road.

There is no curse harsh enough to describe what danger Bush and his GOP have put us all in.

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on May 23, 2006 3:43 PM

Oh, I forgot to mention equally. Gore Won! And, Gore would save many more lives than Bush during Hurricane season. Gore cares more to do the right thing and Gore would hire James Lee Witt--an expert.

Gore's Victory

By Robert Parry
November 12, 2001

So Al Gore was the choice of Florida's voters -- whether one counts hanging chads or dimpled chads. That was the core finding of the eight news organizations that conducted a review of disputed Florida ballots. By any chad measure, Gore won.

Gore won even if one doesn't count the 15,000-25,000 votes that USA Today estimated Gore lost because of illegally designed "butterfly ballots," or the hundreds of predominantly African-American voters who were falsely identified by the state as felons and turned away from the polls.

Gore won even if there's no adjustment for George W. Bush's windfall of about 290 votes from improperly counted military absentee ballots where lax standards were applied to Republican counties and strict standards to Democratic ones, a violation of fairness reported earlier by the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Put differently, George W. Bush was not the choice of Florida's voters anymore than he was the choice of the American people who cast a half million more ballots for Gore than Bush nationwide. [For more details on studies of the election, see stories of May 12, June 2 and July 16.]

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on May 24, 2006 3:00 PM

In Speech to Medical Graduates, Bloomberg Diverges From G.O.P. Line
Published: May 26, 2006!kQ7BX!!Q2FWQ3EWllQ20Q3ElTQ3EWQ20Q3EYcXqQ5CB!YQ3EWQ20bic!XQ2BvQ2FbQ2A

Distancing himself from national Republicans and the Bush administration, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday urged an end to the political manipulation of science, which he said had been used to discredit the threat of global warming and undermine medical advancements in areas like stem-cell research. In a speech to graduating students of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Mr. Bloomberg railed against what he sees as ideologically motivated arguments that have fueled debate over hot-button issues like teaching evolution in public schools and the Terri Schiavo case. "Today, we are seeing hundreds of years of scientific discovery being challenged by people who simply disregard facts that don't happen to agree with their agenda," Mr. Bloomberg said. "Some call it pseudoscience, others call it faith-based science, but when you notice where this negligence tends to take place, you might as well call it 'political science.' "

by Troutfishing
Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:37:12 AM CDT


Al Gore’s Movie:

An Inconvenient Truth

TX Houston
River Oaks

Landmark River Oaks Theatre
2009 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019


Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail

by A Rational Being
Wed May 24, 2006 at 05:13:08 PM CDT

Jared Diamond won a Pulitzer Prize for his book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies. I read Guns a few years ago so my memory of it is fuzzy. What I do recall is this: Diamond sets out to explain why Europeans took over the world and not South Americans, Africans or any other subset of the human race.

Diamond suggests that the root cause of the Europeans success was climate and soil fertility coupled with a ready supply of plants and animals suitable for domestication.

The availability of lots of food meant people could devote energies to things other than food gathering, like metal invention, volume production, and printing. (If, for example, Guttenberg had to gather food everyday, would he have had time to invent the printing press?) High food production, led to population growth. Population growth and close living led to disease immunity. Once Europeans, with their strong immune systems and nasty diseases left shore with their superior steel weapons and written words, few other cultures could compete.

on Page 44:
"disease spread from tribe to tribe far in advance of the Europeans themselves, killing an estimated 95 percent of the pre-Columbian Native American population. The most populous and highly organized native societies of North America, the Mississippian chiefdoms, disappeared in that way between 1492 and 1600."

With diseases like that, who needed weapons?

Guns Germs and Steel fascinated me.(though others told me they could not get through it - I guess I am weird that way.)

Thanks to my iPod, I have just finished Diamond's next book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The tone of Collapse is quite different. While it is a history book like Guns, Diamond focuses on collapsed societies. Diamond's examples range from the long past to the near present including Easter Island, Pitcairn and Henderson Islands, Anasazi Indians (of New Mexico), Mayans, Vikings, Rwanda, and Haiti. His examples span about 1700 years from Easter Island to the present Rwanda.

When I picked it up, I expected this book to be about environmental damage. An early statement by Diamond surprised me:

When I began to plan this book, I didn't appreciate those complications, and I naively thought that the book would just be about environmental damage.

Diamond sets out a framework for collapse and describes five sets of contributing factors. Then, in each of his chosen collapse cases, he identifies the role, if any, the factors played.

The factors he describes are: Environmental damage inflicted by people, Climate Change, Hostile neighbors, decreased support by friendly neighbors, and society's response to problems.

Environmental damage inflicted by people - this includes deforestation, salinization (a process, often a result of over watering, that causes salt buildup in soil and decreases soil fertility), overgrazing, contamination, and a number of other serious self-inflicted wounds.

Climate Change - The Anasazi Indians, for example, settled parts of what is now called New Mexico during a wet period. However, as rainfall trended back to normal, water supply, and thus survival, became an issue.

Hostile Neighbors - The Norse, for many reasons, did not "get along" with the Greenland's native Inuit. Thus, they did not learn the survival techniques of the Inuit and battled with them from time to time.

Decreased support by friendly neighbors - The story of Pitcairn and Henderson Islands is, at first, one of complimentary relationships; each island filled key resource needs of its neighbor. However, as one island died from deforestation, the second island died as well.

Society's response to problems - A number of cultures suffered from deforestation. Yet the response by these cultures varied widely. On Easter Island, it appears as though residents took no action. On Japan however, rulers enforced a strict forest management program.

After introducing us to these contributing factors, Diamond uses a loved location, The Bitterroot Valley of Montana to illustrate the contradictions and challenges of modern society, and, not surprisingly, the rest of our nation.

While the book is dense and a bit slow at times, the histories of collapse are fascinating. As you read these stories, you find yourself in the time and place of the ill-fated peoples feeling helpless to divert them from their inevitable end. Furthermore, you begin to appreciate the effort Diamond must have expended to construct these stories. It is also hard not to imagine the millions of anthropologist-hours devoted to these missing societies

As expected, seeing parallels to our situations today is unavoidable. However, our imagination is not required. Diamond takes a hard look at a quite fragile Australia; the country/continent that is perhaps closest to environmental collapse on this planet. From Australia, he moves to China. With little effort, Diamond made me worry about China's "successful" economy. Should the Chinese reach the standard of living enjoyed by citizens of the U.S.:

But China is progressing rapidly towards its goal of a first-world economy. If China's per-capita consumption rates do rise to First World levels, and even if nothing else about the world changed - e.g., even if population and production/consumption rates everywhere else remained unchanged - then that production/consumption rate increase alone would translate (as multiplied by China's population) into an increase in total world production or consumption of 94% in that same case of industrial metals. In other words, China's achievement of First World standards will approximately double the entire world's human resource use and environmental impact."
Diamond moves from looming crisis of China to discuss management of the commons including Forests, Fisheries, and Mineral resources. He also describes the role corporations play - both the good guys and the bad - in environmental health.

The final chapter, The World as a Polder summarizes the most serious problems (Diamond identifies 11), addresses some of the more common objections to claims of societal collapse, and ends with reasons for hope.

Diamond's analysis is compelling, meticulously well researched, and well written. "Enjoy" however, is not a word I can use to describe this book. While I think everyone should read it and understand the implications of this book, I do not believe anyone will "enjoy" what Diamond has to say.


Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on May 26, 2006 5:13 PM