Environment

Barak Obama on Hurricanes (and Tornadoes!) and GW

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyApr 4, 2006 1:53 PM

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The junior senator from Illinois recently gave a long speech on global warming, which included the following:

And while the situation on the land may look ugly, what's going on in the oceans is even worse. Hurricanes and typhoons thrive in warm water, and as the temperature has risen, so has the intensity of these storms. In the last thirty-five years, the percentage of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has doubled, and the wind speed and duration of these storms has jumped 50%. A hurricane showed up in the South Atlantic recently when scientists said it could never happen. Last year, Japan set a new record when it suffered its tenth typhoon and the United States set a record for the most tornadoes we've ever had. And at one point, Hurricane Wilma was the most powerful storm ever measured.

On the one hand, I have to praise Obama and his staff--this passage suggests they conducted some individual research. However, two errors: 1) Hurricane Wilma was the most powerful storm ever measured in the Atlantic, not anywhere on the globe. And more importantly 2): I know of no basis for talking about tornadoes in the context of global warming. I'm not aware of any theory on why they should increase in strength, much less any data backing that theory up. So unfortunately, I have to conclude that Obama has gone too far in this instance.

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