This storm, Hurricane Ike, came through the area that I described earlier, the space between Cuba, Florida, and the Yucatan Peninsula. That put the storm over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico that are now slightly warmer than these waters were even a few decades ago. This storm responded to the warmer waters by becoming a huge storm, but not a huge and strong storm. It was a Category 3 Storm. Katrina was a Category 4 or 5 when it struck New Orleans. Katrina is really the model of the mother of all storms, a really large hurricane that is also really powerful in terms of wind speed.
There is some irony in the fact that the Gulf Coast has become a death zone of monster hurricanes as it hosts so much of the American petroleum refinery industry. The hurricane path is set to bear down now and ravage the area that has been so instrumental in American petroleum production. These companies who have fought so hard to create confusion about the role of petrol burning in global warming will now have to figure out how to cover their business costs and the losses that will come regularly from hurricanes like Ike and Katrina. You can take it to the bank, the insurance industry will not feel any loyalty to long term customers and clients who choose to rebuild in this death zone. If you want to rebuild, you will pay huge premiums if you can find insurance.
And, of course, no matter what other lessons can be learned as the years go by and these really large storms change the life-support capacity of this small region of a small blue planet, it must be noted that everyday working women and men, families who have been fed misleading propaganda by industry and the corporate media will pay a price.
This is a teachable moment. It is time to leave the Gulf Coast. We may have years like we had between Katrina and Ike, relatively mild hurricane seasons, but the Ike and Katrina years are going to be a regular pattern now.
The small blue planet does not respect our species’ desire to see it as a commodity. It is not a commodity, it is a complex system and when you change the chemistry and makeup in significant ways, like running up the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, you do so at your peril.
I am waiting for a tipping point, a moment when the American consciousness absorbs the impact of global warming. A moment when we recognize that polar bears are not the only ones threatened by our short-sighted approach to the planet that we inhabit.