We have a prediction: the National Hurricane Center and its parent group, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are wrong. They are predicting for this year “13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become ‘major’ hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.” These were the words of Conrad C. Lautenbacher, head of NOAA, at a press conference at the National Hurricane Center on May 22, about a week before the beginning of this year’s hurricane season.
We predict that this year’s hurricane season will be more like last year’s, or worse: 28 named storms, 15 of them hurricanes and four of them Category 5 hurricanes.
We can make this prediction because we are not motivated by a political agenda as is the leadership of NOAA. Their agenda is to cover up the growing scientific evidence that links global warming to more destructive and more frequent Category 4 and 5 storms. Of the six most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States in the past 150 years, three occurred within 52 days in 2005, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The damage from Katrina alone was over 1500 dead, two million people displaced and at least $200 billion in damages.
Over the past year, beginning with a study by Kerry Emanuel of MIT published last July, at least five major scientific studies have reported the connection between the human-caused heating up of the earth and more destructive and frequent major storms. The latest study, reported by Richard A. Lovett in National Geographic News in late June, was by Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
In Lovett’s article, Trenberth is quoted as saying, “global warming has contributed about half of the record high [sea-surface temperature] values in the critical hurricane region. . . enhancing risk of more hurricane activity into the future.”
And how did NOAA leadership respond to this latest scientific news? Lovett reports Chris Landsea, science and operations operator at the National Hurricane Center, as saying that, in Lovett’s words, “the study is flawed. . .the study focuses too strongly on sea-surface temperatures. . .”
This echoes NOAA director Lautenbacher’s response when asked at his May 22 press conference about the impact of global warming; he brushed it aside as a major factor. He continued to assert, as has National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield, that the recent increase in hurricane intensity is due to “natural variability,” a theory Kerry Emanuel, among others, seriously questions. Meanwhile, in a move widely reported in the popular press, NOAA has since September 2005 implemented an internal policy restricting the ability of its dissenting climate scientists to speak to reporters.
Lautenbacher, a retired Navy Vice Admiral, was appointed by George Bush in 2001 to head NOAA and its $4 billion budget. Since then, Lautenbacher has criticized international efforts to address climate change, including the Kyoto Protocol. On August 30, 2005, immediately after Katrina struck and after publication of the landmark MIT study, Lautenbacher told an audience in Missouri, “we have no direct link between the number of (hurricanes) and intensity versus global temperature rise.”
And in November 2005, on Lautenbacher’s watch, NOAA’s official magazine published a story stating that the record 2005 season was part of “naturally occurring multi-decadal climate variability.” The article omitted any reference to the Emanuel study or a similar one published in September by, among others, Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech University. It made no mention of the climate modeling of its own NOAA scientists predicting more intense storms due to global warming.
National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield, much more in the public eye, continues to echo these increasingly discredited positions despite the fact that the Hurricane Center’s mission statement is explicit: “To save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical weather, and by increasing understanding of these hazards.”
The actions of these U.S. government climate officials are outrageous. They are FEMA-like.
That is why on Saturday, August 26, one year after Hurricane Katrina, we are organizing a demonstration at the national headquarters of NOAA in Silver Spring, Md., just outside D.C., to remember and mourn the deaths of the 1500 people who died because of it. Our aim: 1500 people each holding the name and picture of a Katrina victim. And we will demand that Lautenbacher and Mayfield resign.
It is time to stand up for climate justice and truth-telling!
Mike Tidwell and Ted Glick are, respectively, the director and coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council. To register your plan to attend on August 26 or for more information contact Ted at [email protected], 973-338-5398 or go to www.climateemergency.org.