Forseeable for sure

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


George W. Bush yesterday morning on Good Morning America:

“I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

As Echidne, Kevin Drum, and Matthew Yglesias point out, a lot of people were anticipating the breach of the levees. That’s not all. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce released a study earlier this month predicting a 95-100% rise in the number of tropical storms this season.

In total, this season is likely to yield 18 to 21 tropical storms, with nine to 11 becoming hurricanes, including five to seven major hurricanes.

…”The tropics are only going to get busier as we enter the peak of the season,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, USAF (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service. “This may well be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, and will be the ninth above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in the last eleven years.”

It’s not quite an August 6th memo, but Bush certainly should have known about the likelihood that intense hurricanes could hit New Orleans.

Of course, that information might not have made it through the Condi filter, since the unprecedented rise in high intensity tropical storms seems to be partially related to the rising water temperatures caused by global warming.

NOAA downplays this,

This confluence of optimal ocean and atmosphere conditions has been known to produce increased tropical storm activity in multi-decadal (approximately 20-30 year) cycles. Because of this, NOAA expects a continuation of above-normal seasons for another decade or perhaps longer. NOAA’s research shows that this reoccurring cycle is the dominant climate factor that controls Atlantic hurricane activity. Any potentially weak signal associated with longer-term climate change appears to be a minor factor.

They don’t cite to any study, though, and somehow I have a feeling that political considerations motivated that statement. A recent study published in Nature by Kerry Emmanuel, a climatologist at MIT, suggests that while there are natural reasons for the rise in frequency and intensity of hurricanes, global warming has compounded their effects. The Washington Post has more details on the scientific debate here.

If this is going to a problem for decades to come, I certainly hope the administration stops privatizing and undermining FEMA and cutting funding to levee building repair in the cities that need it.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate