July 29, 2007
I'd Have to Disagree With the Basic Premise
The number of Atlantic hurricanes in an average season has doubled in the last century due in part to warmer seas and changing wind patterns caused by global warming, according to a study released on Sunday.
...From 1900 to 1930, Atlantic hurricane seasons saw six storms on average, with four hurricanes and two tropical storms. From 1930 to 1940, the annual average rose to ten, including five hurricanes.
What jumps out at you with these dates? Yes, you're right up there with my thinking. In 1900 they didn't even have frickin' electric street lights ("Gas lighting for streets gave way to low pressure sodium and high pressure mercury lighting in the 1930's..."), telephones were an obscene luxury ("The first regular telephone exchange was established in New Haven in 1878. Early telephones were leased in pairs to subscribers. The subscriber was required to put up his own line to connect with another.") and the vast majority of the country had yet to be connected to a power grid , less mind being able to count every low pressure system that developed in the vast Atlantic or even the more exotic reaches of the Gulf of Mexico. No clue. Just ask the folks who watched as the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 rolled ashore ~ to the tune of over 8,000 people dead ~ devoid of the usual warning signals accepted for impending heavy weather of the time.
... The usual signs which herald the approach of hurricanes were not present in this case. The brick-dust sky was not in evidence to the smallest degree. This feature, which has been distinctly observed in other storms that have occurred in this section, was carefully watched for, both on the evening of the 7th and the morning of the 8th. There were cirrus clouds moving from the southeast during the forenoon of the 7th, but by noon only alto-stratus from the northeast were observed. About the middle of the afternoon the clouds were divided between cirrus, alto-stratus, and cumulus, moving from the northeast. A heavy swell from the southeast made its appearance in the Gulf of Mexico during the afternoon of the 7th. The swell continued during the night without diminishing, and the tide rose to an unusual height when it is considered that the wind was from the north and northwest. About 5 a.m. of the 8th Mr. J. L. Cline, Observer, called me and stated that the tide was well up in the low parts of the city, and that we might be able to telegraph important information to Washington.
'Might be able to telegraph' information and expecting what answer? ("Ya'll be careful out there"?) Washington certainly couldn't give them particulars or prognostications in return. They could only wait for a damage report. That's 1900. Let's take a couple decades' leap to 1926. The communications and weather forecasting have improved little.
...Therefore, in those days before satellite pictures and reconnaissance aircraft, the hurricane remained somewhat of a mystery, with only a few ship reports to tell of its existence.
In those days, storm warnings were centralized in Washington, DC, and disseminated to field offices like Miami. However, as late as the morning of September 17, less than 24 hours before the category 4 storm's effects would begin in South Florida, no warnings had been issued. At noon, the Miami Weather Bureau Office was authorized to post storm warnings (one step below hurricane, or winds of 48 to 55 knots). It was only as the barometer began a precipitous fall, around 11 PM the night of September 17, that Gray hoisted hurricane warnings.
If they had no clue in Miami what was about to happen, Pensacola was even worse off...
...The 1926 Miami Hurricane made a second landfall in Florida on September 20 near Pensacola before moving on in a weakened state to coastal Mississippi and Louisiana on September 21.
...and might could have used a little warning.
PENSACOLA DAMAGE PUT AT $3,000,000; Naval Air Station Near There Also Hard Hit -- Eight Docks in City Destroyed.
September 23, 1926, Thursday
PENSACOLA, Fla., Sept. 22 (By Wireless to The Associated Press, New Orleans). -- Destruction of eight docks and numerous small craft, the beaching or damaging of twenty-five fishing smacks and the crippling of public utilities constituted the toll taken by the tropical hurricane which struck Pensacola on Monday.
And damn near a couple hundred dead between us and it's route out of town through Alabama/Mississippi. But there's no accurate body count, because there's no accurate census of our Godforsaken Red-neck of the woods at that time. (Ooooh! Dovetails NICELY into my thesis...) By virtue of NOAA's own website, if you didn't have a ship free itself from disaster and report a storm, no one had Clue One what was swirling around out there or on it's way in. No barometers, no cell phone, no radar (doppler or otherwise), satellite views (either visual or water vapor) ~ no satellites, period. (Werner von Braun was just breaking out his chemistry set as a 12 year old.) Sorry, research types ~ it was all a big mystery right up to the middle of the century. And, even then, folks were still washing out to sea. We simply didn't have the tools, and, when we finally got them, the interpretive skill set had to evolve. But, if you point out the obvious, you get the head tilt and dreaded 'S-Word'..
...Skeptics say hurricane data from the early decades of the 20th century are not reliable because cyclones likely formed and died in mid-ocean, where no one knew they existed.
'Skeptic' as soon as you point out the obvious problem with their data set. 'Skeptic' as soon as you question what they so confidently assert. 'Skeptic' as soon as you want to know how they know what is basically unknowable.
...More reliable data became available in 1944 when researchers had airplane observations, and from 1970 when satellites came into use.
But Holland and Webster said the improved data from the last half of the century cannot be solely responsible for the increase.
"We are led to the confident conclusion that the recent upsurge in the tropical cyclone frequency is due in part to greenhouse warming, and this is most likely the dominant effect," the authors wrote.
Well, I could be confident in asserting ANYTHING if I, as confidently, discount common sense and the complete lack of data bolstering my confident conclusion from ANY source which might upset my confident conclusioning. If I assert wholeheartedly that I KNOW that the period from 1900-1930 had X amount of storms AND NO MORE ~ regardless of scientific observations confirming or discounting my assertion, because of the technological limits of the time ~ it must be SO. And if I then accept I am correct in the unproven basis of my assertion, all that I assert thereafter MUST BE SO.
So there. (I'm blonde ~ it works for me.) (Well, it would if, even as a blonde, I could live with myself so ethically debased/deluded.)
This isn't tree rings, or layers in an ice core, or geologic stratigraphy, or carbon dating. They're MAKING. IT. UP.
The MSNBC homepage says:
"Study: Rise in storms tied to warming"
...but the story headline adds: "U.S. officials call study citing doubling of storms since 1905 ‘sloppy science’". Talk about misleading and oh, PUHleez ~ call it what it is!
"MAKING. SH*T. UP".
(And since when do maker-uppers get their name in the news as if they were experts? Whatever happened to peer review before a study made the big time news?)
God, these a$$holes are insufferable.
Posted by tree hugging sister at July 29, 2007 10:16 PM
Yeah, anything goes for the "Fake but Accurate" crowd, huh?
Wish I could make s**t like this up. My job would be both easier and a lot more fun.
Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at July 30, 2007 01:50 AM
Funny how there was an increase in storms in the ocean once people started flying over the oceans. Obviously, the Wright Brothers are to blame for this rise in hurricane activity.
as in "Wright-Wing Conspiracy"
It's all so clear now.
Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 30, 2007 07:36 AM
You dare to doubt?
I've got the matches, someone go get the firewood. We're goin' to have an old fashioned heretic burnin'.
Posted by: WunderKraut at July 30, 2007 08:14 AM
"Whatever happened to peer review before a study made the big time news?"
It was published in Philosophical Transactions A (Physical MAthematical, and Engineering Sciences), so they did get technically get a peer review before releasing this. PTA has an embargo, so it looks as if they made the press release right after publication, a big no-no. Not as big as the one Fleischman and Ponds made, but still...
Problem is, PTA is now a second or third tier general journal. I think in all my years of study I've used one or two references from it. If this were real science it would either get published in Science or Nature, or one of the Meteorological journals. Given that it wasn't means that they cherry-picked their reviewers, who were probably three political hacks and one trained monkey.
When submitting to a scientific journal, you can ask the editor that some people be included on the reviewer list, and some be excluded. In journals related to the field, or the two top-tier ones, big claims like this make the editor look at the recommendations from the author, say "screw you", and pick his own set of reliable reviewers from people he personally knows and trusts. In a journal such as PTA, which is not used to taking in many meteorological submissions, the editor would likely not know whom to call to see if the article was BS.
A rough count on Google Scholar shows 362 articles on Metorology in PTA, most of which were historical rather than scientific, and 596 articles in Nature, most of which were editorials, but with a lot more hard science that the PTA lot. Nature also has a lot more prestige, and if the editor of Nature calls a famous metorologist ot be a reviewer, said meteorologist is not going to blow the Nature editor off.
How much do you want to bet these clowns tried for a pub in Nature and got rejected?
Posted by: John at July 30, 2007 08:26 AM
You said it, THS!
This is the same reason why I have no patience for people claiming there is "global warming."
They claim that the "average" temperature has risen in the past hundred years or more. But they can't even know what the "average" worldwide temperature is today, let alone a century ago.
What really gets me is the claim that their measurements are discernable to the tenth of a degree. The temperature isn't constant to that accuracy even in a small town, let alone the world.
It's all rubbish. It's an attempt to politicize what cannot be political, an attempt to use weather to control politics.
Posted by: Mike Rentner at July 30, 2007 09:32 AM
1. Yeah I've had this same argument with people over global warming. They start spouting nonsense and then I ask them "So.... What's the temperature of the **planet** today?".
Nothing follows after that.
2. What also gets me is that some scientist proved that many of the temperature monitoring stations are not properly sited. That they are either not high enough or too close to parking lots, or even in the middle of parking lots.
All of which will definitely skew the temperature readings.
3. All this nonsense with storms is being pushed because, as we all know, without some dramatic storms the whole meme of global warming looks stupid.
Posted by: memomachine at July 30, 2007 09:53 AM
1. Personally I can live with global warming. What I think is extremely dangerous is the potential for global cooling. If it's a bit too warm then at least we can still grow food. In fact the potential for increased crop production could make global warming even more attractive. And if there is a negative impact on rainfall patterns then we could implement a new national public works project that I frankly think would be worthwhile anyways.
A national water distribution grid coupled with very large artificial lakes as reservoirs.
This system would allow water to be bought and sold as a part of the commodities market and would allow areas with too much rainfall to slough off the excess into the system, and thus *gain* credits for that water, while areas in drought could purchase excess water. This kind of system would alleviate both drought and flooding to a major degree and offer the southwest a new source of water to fuel economic growth which is otherwise being strangled by a lack of water.
Throw in pipelines to Canada and this commodities market system would also add a great many new sources of water to the system.
2. IMHO what really concerns me is global cooling. It seems to me that the primary engine is the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and the sun. If the temperatures drop then the entire population of mankind is in serious trouble because much of the world's food is produced nearer to the poles than the equator. Cut the world's food supply by significant fraction and you'll see all hell broken loose.
Consider the impact of the Little Ice Age on today's global economy. Consider the impact of having multiple years, back to back, where crops cannot be grown anywhere outside the equatorial regions. Famine, disease, war, ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Posted by: memomachine at July 30, 2007 10:01 AM
Not to go off thread too much, but FYI, memomachine, the idea of transcontinental water pipelines has been visited before. Not on a grid basis, as you propose, but for specific cases (e.g., pumping water out of the Columbia or Snake rives into California, from the Great Lakes to the mid-West during high lake levels, or as a slurry line to transport coal). All of them were nixed, primarily due to state water rights (and the states control water rights; the Feds merely adjudicate when water sources cross state borders...I'm not sure about Canada, although we have a long standing "International Joint Commission" to coordinate water use).
You'd have to "nationalize" water supplies to make that happen, which is not likely without a significant paradigm shift in politics. So while your idea has merit, there are major obstacles to it.
John, nice analysis! I don't read many scientific publications (technical mainly, and those are highly focused), but I think you hit the nail on the head as to why this s**t was published.
Alas, I'm seeing a similar lack of critical thinking (or at least, accepting articles without getting a second opinion) by editors in what I do read. One such article in a publication that I regularly read actually cited both the Stern Report and The Goreacle™'s movie as speaking in "...stark terms about the challenge to civilization presented by climate change and about the urgent need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels." The rest of the article flowed (mostly downhill) from there.
Unfortunately, this particular publication is a primary source of information for me. So I now have to keep a salt shaker close at hand.
Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at July 30, 2007 12:43 PM
Actually you don't. All you need to do is provide the interstate, and possibly intrastate, infrastructure. And you can even charge money for it's use.
Consider the current system where water systems are organized on a either state and/or local basis. There's nothing connecting the systems so each operates largely in isolation. By providing an interstate infrastructure the state and/or local water systems can choose to sell water they have, store water for other systems or buy water.
Consider it the water equivalent of the US Interstate system. The implementation of which didn't require federalization of all state and local roads, just connections to them.
So this would allow states that otherwise would have massive problems with flooding to route the excess water to reservoir systems capable of handling the volume. The system could have multiple pipelines, and reservoirs, segregated by water quality.
One major problem with water today is that it's impossible to manage well if there's a lack. And there's really no easy way of managing risk if your business or city already has or could have water problems. Consider Intel who had to move out of California because of the lack of sufficient water supplies.
Another point is that an interstate water distribution system would also allow either the federal government or interested third parties to shift water from excess regions into troubled natural water systems such as the Colorado river.
*shrug* I really don't see it being anything that couldn't be dealt with and I frankly think that such a system would be both an economic benefit in general and a huge economic benefit. Additionally it would also add in as a new factor any negative impact on both availability or quality of existing water supplies any new construction that might be proposed.
Posted by: memomachine at July 30, 2007 02:40 PM
"... and a huge economic benefit." should read "... and a huge economic benefit for more rural areas."
Posted by: memomachine at July 30, 2007 02:42 PM
memo, I'm not going to get into a long discussion about this. I will simply repeat that I said your required a significant paradigm shift in politics for this to happen, and that's exactly what you're proposing, a major shift in paradigm.
I'm not saying it won't work (technically it's possible, although dreadfully expensive, and I would hate to run the water use and availability forecasts for such a huge system). I'm saying that people won't agree to it under current laws, and long standing precedent. That "operating largely in isolation" is by choice....because no one wants their water supply control by some centralized bureaucracy, or impacted by other (distant) users. Water is life, and life is water, and there's only so much to go around.
As one Wisconsin governor put it (in response to a suggestion very similar to yours), "The only way Lake Michigan water is leaving this state is in beer cans."
Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at July 30, 2007 03:05 PM
"The only way Lake Michigan water is leaving this state is in beer cans."
Heheh. Yep. I've heard discussion about piping water out of the midwest to the southwest states. It's a non-starter, the opposition to such a plan is widespread and very deep here.
Posted by: Dave E. at July 31, 2007 10:54 AM
1. *shrug* I don't think it's that big a shift. You buy bottled water don't you? You pay for the water piped to your house don't you?
Tell me. Would Michigan be happier to send water to the southwest if the water was paid for?
2. All I'm talking about is an interstate system for piping water where both the sender and receiver both have an agreed contract for shipping a specific quantity of water at a specific date/time with concurrence by the interstate water authority which oversees the pipeline system.
No paradigm shift required.
You as a residential customer still purchases your water from your local water authority. But if your area is hit with a drought and needs water badly, then your local water authority could purchase water from Michigan, or whomever offers the best deal, and have that water transported to the local water authority's reservoir system.
i.e. control is still on a local/state level with the added bonus that if you're being inundated with excess water then it's less of a major disaster and more of a windfall because now there will be an economic benefit to redistribute that excess to local reservoirs for later sale. And if nothing else it might alleviate the flood damage that seems to happen every single year to the same areas.
*shrug* I'm all for letting this go if nobody wants to discuss it. But I think water supplies and distribution are going to be the really big issues over the next couple decades and that we are going to have to implement a national water grid capable of operating in this manner.
What's also interesting is that a national water grid that would allow interested third parties to either purchase or sell water would possibly allow corporations to specialize in desalination. This way water systems in the mid-west could purchase water distilled from the ocean. Which could be powered by renewable energy sources that would otherwise not be available for local water systems.
What can I say. It's interesting to me.
Posted by: memomachine at July 31, 2007 04:21 PM
If you don't want to discuss it, the no reply is necessary.
Posted by: memomachine at July 31, 2007 04:25 PM
First, I am not guessing here, memo. I deal with water supply issues on a semi-regular basis, although usually in how to work with the systems, and not in controlling them. I have to understand water rights, and the use of water for irrigation, navigation, power systems, and environmental quality. I also have to deal with the owners of those water rights.....and they have very specific rights, outlined by law and court decree, which must be taken very seriously. Changing or challenging them is not for the faint of heart.
Next, let's go back to the idea of pumping water out of the Great Lakes. That's not a new idea, not in the least.
But the problem is that no one government "owns" that system, it's an internationally managed resource that benefits a huge region. But there's little doubt that there is a HUGE supply of fresh water there, the largest on this planet.
As an example, there was a lawsuit by several states (including Wisconsin and Michigan) against Illinois for taking too much water from Lake Michigan. Click here for an overview, but here's the money quote:
"A 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decree (amended in 1980) limits Illinois’ supply of Lake Michigan water. The decree came about from a long-standing interstate dispute over the reversal of the Chicago River, early in the last century, so that it carried water (as it still does) out of Lake Michigan and eventually into the Mississippi River basin."
So when you say "No paradigm shift required", you are missing the basic premise of most state and local laws: water supplies are controlled by those people who have the water rights to them.
Fast forwarding, there are multiple examples of water systems that do and do not support your idea. That is, sometimes the rights are owned locally (such as where I live), and sometimes not (e.g., New York City). Disputes over who owned the water were usually settled by the courts (for smaller cases in remote areas, sometimes by exchanging small arms fire).
So, for your idea to work, a whole bunch of people would have to buy into the idea of not directly controlling their water supplies, and turn that control over to a national system.
That many people do depend on extensive networks proves that your idea has merit. But the facts that those sort of systems required extensive legal groundwork to enact, and tend to be the exception, not the rule, work against your idea.
My personal and professional experience tells me that your idea is possible, but is not feasible unless there is a major shift in how people view their water supplies. My professional opinion is that Congress would have to enact legislation effectively nationalizing all water supplies, and placing those supplies under the control of a Federal agency or special purpose Federal corporation.
And since we all know just how well the Federal government works, my personal opinion is that Congress would have a bigger battle ahead of them on this topic than they did with the recently failed immigration reform laws.
Again, your idea has merits, if the situation was ideal. The reality is that it would be a very hard trail to follow, enough that I doubt it would be sucessful.
But it is possible that, in a century or so, some sort of national water control authority becomes necessary. We see the outlines of that with water quality standards set and enforced by the EPA. So perhaps this sort of system will develop by "evolution".
We'll just have to wait and see, is all.
Posted by: The_Real_JeffS at July 31, 2007 06:34 PM
Jeff is right on here. In Minnesota there have been issues with planning new ethanol plants in some areas because of concerns that the local aquifer could support them and all the existing aquifer users. In the case of one plant it was feasible to pipe water in from another watershed, however that is apparently illegal here, and from the article a waiver or revision didn't have a chance of getting through the legislature.
Let me add that there is a visceral negative reaction to the very idea of pumping water out of the Great Lakes, at least in the upper midwest. I admit it's more an emotional than rational reaction, but there you go. You might be able to make a case for it on paper(and it would have to be a hell of a lot of money), but it would still be a very tough sell.
Posted by: Dave E. at July 31, 2007 07:39 PM
RE: parochial attitudes to water rights: I grew up in the Bay Area of Northern California, then moved to Los Angeles as an adult. When I was a teenager, "we" all cordially hated Southern California for, well, many reasons, but a principal reason was that we "knew" that all those shallow, profligate, rich movie stars in Beverly Hills were stealing "our" water to fill their swimming pools, wash their limousines, and water their lavish lawns and their golf courses in the desert. (Google "Mono Lake", for example.)
Now, when I go home for visits, if I happen to meet someone who asks where I'm from, I have to establish my bona fides by saying that I live in Los Angeles, but grew up in the Bay Area - or else I'm treated as one of the dreaded "them"!!!
And that's just within one state.
Posted by: Mary in LA at July 31, 2007 09:08 PM