Saturday, 7 June 2008


From: New York Times, May 31, 2008


By Charles M. Blow, N.Y. Times columnist

We are now firmly ensconced in the Age of Extreme Weather.

According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters,
there have been more than four times as many weather-related disasters
in the last 30 years than in the previous 75 years. The United States
has experienced more of those disasters than any other country.

Just this month, a swarm of tornadoes shredded the central states.
California and Florida have been scorched by wildfires, and a
crippling drought in the Southeast has forced Georgia to authorize
plans for new reservoirs.

Who do we have to thank for all this? Probably ourselves.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued
reports concluding that "human influences" (read greenhouse-gas
emissions) have "more likely than not" contributed to this increase.
The United States is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse-gas

Furthermore, a White House report about the effect of global climate
change on the United States issued Thursday (years late and under
court order) reaffirmed that the situation will probably get worse: In
addition to temperature extremes, "precipitation is likely to be less
frequent but more intense. It is also likely that future hurricanes
will become more intense, with higher peak speeds and more heavy
precipitation... ."

This increase is deadly and disruptive -- and could become
economically unbearable.

According to the National Hurricane Center, 10 of the 30 costliest
American hurricanes have struck since 2000, even after adjusting the
figures for inflation and the cost of construction.

In 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, the estimated damage from
storms in the United States was $121 billion. That is $39 billion more
than the 2005 supplemental spending bill to fight the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq.

About $3 billion has been allocated to assist farmers who suffer
losses because of droughts, floods and tornadoes among other things.

And, a recent report in The Denver Post said the Forest Service plans
to spend 45 percent, or $1.9 billion, of its budget this year fighting
forest fires.

This surge in disasters and attendant costs is yet another reason we
need to declare a coordinated war on climate change akin to the wars
on drugs and terror. It's a matter of national security.

By the way, hurricane season begins Sunday [June 1].

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