Benny Peiser / 23.08.2007 / 23:11 / 0 / Seite ausdrucken

Von der Bändigung der Hurricane

On September 28, 1955, a Category 5 hurricane named Janet slammed into Chetumal, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, killing over 600 people.

Hurricane Dean, another Category 5, and the third-strongest storm ever measured at landfall, hit in exactly the same place earlier this week (Tuesday, August 21,2007) and killed no one. Maximum winds in both storms were indistinguishable. The hurricane-hunter pilot who flew through the eyewall of the storm Tuesday reported severe turbulence, which is a temporary loss of aircraft control. Probably for the first time in human history, a Category 5 storm hit a populated area and everyone lived.

Because of its peculiar location, the Yucatan takes more big hurricane hits than just about anywhere else in the western hemisphere. When Mexico was dirt-poor, as it was in 1955, hurricanes could kill hundreds. They were warned, then, too. Hurricane-hunter planes also monitored Janet. Only one of these has ever been lost, and it as Janet was making landfall.

Similar storms, huge storms, very different results. What’s happening here? [...]

When Janet killed hundreds, per-capita income in Mexico was less than a tenth of what it is now, when Dean killed no one.

So why is it that people are wringing their hands about global warming causing more severe hurricanes and deaths?

We see other adaptations to climate change in our cities. In the United States, cities with the most frequent heat waves have the fewest heat-related deaths, and heat-related deaths are themselves dropping, as our cities warm. Remember, a city doesn’t need global warming to get hot. All it needs is a skyline, and a lot of blacktop and concrete to impede the flow of air and retain heat. But in our warming cities, just as with hurricanes in the Yucatan, frequency + affluence = adaptation.

An odd example of this is that there is only one major U.S. city in which heat related deaths are increasing, and it is the coolest one in summer: Seattle.

Anyone concerned about climate change should take a lesson from Hurricane Dean. Even if storms like this become more frequent in the future, people will adapt and survive if they have the financial resources. How silly it seems to take those resources away in futile attempts to “stop global warming”—which no one even knows how to do—when they could save lives by allowing people to adapt to our ever-changing climate.

The truth is that money in the hand is a lot more useful than treaties on paper when it comes to sparing yourself and your family from bad weather. So people truly worried about climate change should be cheerleading for the global trade and economic development that will continue allowing us to adapt.
http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2007/08/23/taming-the-hurricane/#more-265

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