Planet Earth

Getting High in North Carolina

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumAug 28, 2007 5:56 PM

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Just as we've begun to contemplate the implications of our changing physical environment - rising sea level, warmer temperatures, potentially stronger storms, ocean acidification, and so on... yet another cause for concern. Higher insurance rates are upon us! In my own state of North Carolina, rates have increased by 25 percent since May. The reason? Fear we'll be hit by a storm as strong as Hurricane Dean or as destructive as Katrina.

Officials with the N.C. Rate Bureau, which prepares rate requests for insurance companies, don't specifically blame global warming for more hurricanes. But the insurance rate increase was based on historical records of hurricane strikes, plus scientific data showing increased ocean temperatures in recent years. Some scientists think the warmer waters are fueling more intense hurricanes.

The assertion is based on a simple recipe: Warm seas feed tropical storms. Hurricanes generally occur where sea surface temperatures exceed about 80 degrees. In the Atlantic, sea surface temperatures and hurricane activity vary from decade to decade.

In these times of Cat 5 storms, hold tight to your wallet folks! But then again, they say money talks, so maybe it's just what's needed to collectively recognize 'The Times They Are a Changin'...

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