[Marxism] Global warming disaster movie now on TV

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sun Aug 28 09:48:30 MDT 2005

	Depending on the roll of the dice, we may be treated over the
next couple of days to a real life example of the sort of catastrophe
that global warming threatens to visit on many coastal cities throughout
the world.

	New Orleans, which mostly lies below sea level, is threatened by
Category 5 hurricane Katrina with maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH*
(about 260 kmh) and gusts to 195 MPH (315 KMH). The mayor has ordered
the mandatory evacuation of EVERYONE in the city of half a million
people. All lanes of expressways have been turned into outbound lanes.

	So clear and great is the threat that even President George W.
Bush felt moved to take a time out from his busy vacation schedule
ignoring the rising death toll in Iraq to pressure the mayor to order a
mandatory evacuation.

	But it is estimated that about 20% of the city's population
don't have cars. Emergency mass shelters have been set up at a stadium
and other higher-ground facilities. Needless to say these people are
disproportionately young or old, Black, and poor.

	The main reason for the general mandatory evacuation is that sea
level may rise higher than New Orleans protective levees, and once the
water gets in, a lot of it won't be leaving, there's nowhere for it to
go, until it gets pumped out, and the monster pumps that would do the
job would themselves wind up useless and underwater.

	At this strength, tropical cyclones tend to fluctuate due to
something called the eyewall replacement cycle, where the eye of the
hurricane becomes relatively small, a new broad eye builds outside the
new one, starving the original one and causing it to collapse.

	That's how Katrina went from estimated maximum sustained winds
of 115 MPH last night to 160 MPH this morning, and minimum central
pressure from 939 MB to 908 MB.

	Weather forecasters don't know how to predict eyewall
replacement. If it hits land just as another eyewall replacement has
completed, or before a new cycle starts and weakens it somewhat, the
potential storm surge and damage will be all the greater.

	The other great unknown is just where the Hurricane hits,
because there something close to a local tsunami will be the result. Due
to the low pressure and driving winds, a storm surge of 15-20 feet is
expected with this powerful a storm, higher if there is any "funneling"
effect due to coastal characteristics. However, this is localized, it
takes place just to the right-hand side of the eye, where the wind is
blowing from the ocean towards land.

	“With them sitting well below sea level, this is a potential set
up for a catastrophic event that has never been seen before,”  said
Chris Sisko, a meteorologist at the hurricane center.

	Even before the storm reached category 5, Max Mayfield, director
of the Hurricane Center said, “I’ve been here 33 years, and we’ve always
been concerned about New Orleans. I had to let the mayor know that this
storm has the potential not only to cause large property damage, but
large loss of life if people don’t make the right decision.”

	Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the center told CNN this
morning, "this could well become the big one for them."

	Katrina is part of a pattern of more and more powerful storms
that has developed in the Atlantic over the past few years. This is the
11th named storm of this season, whereas by this point on average there
usually have been only four. This is part of a pattern of long-term
(decades-long) fluctuation in the number and intensity of storms that
has been observed but its causes are not understood.

	The tie in to global warming is not the number or intensity of
tropical cyclones -- although common sense would suggest it, that link
has yet to be established scientifically --  but rather that, as global
ice on land melts and runs off into the ocean, rising sea levels will
place an increasing number of coastal cities in New Orleans's position.

	It may take decades for any given city to be hit with a weather
event that will turn rising sea levels into a catastrophe, but given
enough time, that will almost certainly happen.


* The 11 AM (EDT) advisory just came out. Maximum sustained wings are
now 175 MPH, 280 KPH, comparable to the legendary Hurricane Camille of
1969 which brought with it a 20-25 storm surge that devastated the
Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969.	

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