Today, Tropical storm Alpha, the twenty-second named storm of the year formed. At 11 PM Eastern time it had top sustained winds of 50 mph (a storm is named when it reaches tropical storm force, top sustained winds of 39 mph. A category I hurricane begins at 74 nmph). It is threatening the Dominican Republic although it is not considered likely to threaten the United States. The reason the storm is named Alpha (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) is because the National Hurricane Center ran all the way through its list of names, the first time that has ever happened (there are no storms with names beginning with letters q,u,x,y or z because of a shortage of names beginning with those letters).
Of course, as we have been hearing for years, global warming models have predicted more and bigger Atlantic hurricanes. And those who continue to deny the reality of global warming (meaning they choose not to look at photographic or other evidence) will claim that this is part of a 'cycle.'
Well, a 'cycle' means to repeat what has been observed in the past. So not worse than in the past. Not a bunch of new records. But we had them. Not only with Alpha being number 22, but with Wilma being the record twelfth actual hurricane of the year and breaking a record with its central pressure reading 882 mb, the lowest ever recorded. In fact, three of the seven lowest pressure readings were taken this year, with Katrina and Rita also making the list at one time in their journey. The proximate cause of all this is for the reason why global warming models predicted bigger hurricanes: record high water surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic ocean. And of course, NASA climatologists are saying that 2005 is on track to be the warmest year ever for the planet.
That's a pretty tall order of records (following last year's unprecedented spate of hurricanes to rake Florida.) So the whole 'cycle' argument starts to look more like a spiral out of control.
Of course I did get a chuckle out of one right wing talk show I tuned into last night. The host couldn't deny global warming, so he claimed that the Martian icecaps are melting faster, that Venus is getting hotter, that Jupiter is suddenly reflecting more light, and that Pluto is apparently giving off more ice from its surface (indicating an increase in solar energy) now (of course if this last one were true, it would be almost impossible to measure reliably from an earth based platform, but I digress). If true, this would mean that the sun is getting hotter. Now, I have not heard these 'fact's before (and I keep up with scientific literature), so I would blow it off as the ramblings of another nutcake on the right desperate to preserve a position that has more and more evidence stacked up against it all the time (and if it IS true, then 1: Lord Help Us and 2: Why wouldn't it immediately become the top international priority), but then I realized that it is the typical conservative mode of operation:
If something isn't working according to how your ideology claims it should, then blame it on the Democrats in Congress (doesn't matter that they don't actually have the ability to prevent much of anything right now, blame them anyway). If that doesn't work, then blame Clinton. If that doesn't work, then blame Carter. If that won't fly, then blame FDR. And if that isn't good enough, then blame the SUN!