Hurricanes – Are they really becoming worse as predicted?

Hurricane Season 2017 will be remembered for the storm that wouldn’t stop raining and the number of Category 5 hurricanes within a short period of time. We have been hearing from climate change “experts” that the storms would become more violent and numerous. But has this happen? Will 2017 be the beginning of something new or just par for the course? Could it be that perhaps we are just in a cycle? All weather has patterns, cycles they follow.

Data manipulation?

So let’s look at few data points to begin this conversation. For the purpose of this post, we are going to look at hurricane intensity based on barometric pressure. While there are many data points we can use, I want to start with this  information.

The Weather Channel has ranked the strongest hurricanes based on lowest barometric pressure achieved during the lifetime of the storm.

Storm Name Pressure in millibars
1924 Hurricane/ 2004 Ivan 910
2007 Dean / 1998 Mitch 905
2005 Katrina 902
1969 Camille 900
1980 Allen 899
2005 Rita 895
1935 Labor Day Key West 892
1988 Gilbert 888
2005 Wilma 882

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) ranked the strongest hurricanes based on lowest barometric pressure at landfall.

Storm Name Pressure in millibars
1961 Carla 931
1926 Miami / 1960 Donna 930
1928 Lake Okeechobee 929
1919 Keys 927
1886 Indianaola 925
1992 Andrew 922
2005 Katrina 920
1969 Camille 909
1935 Labor Day 892

What makes both of these charts significant is the data used to describe the strength of the storms. The Weather Channel chose to use the lifetime lowest barometric pressure reading while The National Hurricane Center chose to use the barometric pressure reading at landfall. What difference does that make and why would we care? Different measurements provide different results. Between the two charts only three hurricanes show on both charts. Depending on what information is being used, the results provided will give completely different information. It can also appear that one is better than the other. This is where wording is vital. Is it the strongest hurricane based on pressure at any time during the storm (Wilma in 2005) or is it the strongest hurricane when it comes ashore (1935 Labor Day Key West hurricane)? That provides two completely separate answers that are 70 years apart! It’s not misleading but it is manipulation of the data.

So that begs the title question? Are hurricanes becoming stronger? In 2016, Hurricane Matthew was the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic  since 2007; nine years since a major hurricane had appeared in the Atlantic. So if storms were becoming frequent and dangerous, wouldn’t there have been a storm between that time? Hurricane Matthew reached a minimum pressure of 934 millibars, not even making the Top Ten on either lists. Hurricane Dean in 2007 which makes The Weather Channel’s list, was the first Category 5 to have a landfall since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. So it appears that storms are not intensifying and hitting land very often.  In fact, looking at the stats from the National Hurricane Center, only 27 Category 4 or higher storms have hit the United States mainland since 1851. So in 166 years, only 27 Category 4 or 5 storms have hit but yet, we are being told that the storms are becoming more frequent.  Does this make sense? When you read that only 27 Category 4 or 5 storms have hit the mainland since 1851, does it make sense that the storms are becoming stronger and more frequent? Don’t look at what the “experts” say but look at that fact. Approximately every 6 years, a Category 4 or  5 storm will hit the United States mainland. That would be a cycle or a pattern, right? And does that mean that every 6 years, we have a Category 4 or 5 coming onshore? No, it means on average that is what happens.

Here’s what I would like us to think about. What sells ratings? Sensationalism, right? So, the more something seems to be unbelievable the more likely people will tune in, right? Maybe this has happened with our weather media now too. I am not absolutely sure but it seems possible. Don’t you want to tune in to see where Jim Cantore will pop up next? I know I do! And if he is heading to my town, I know it’s going to be a bad weather day. Please do not get me wrong, Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria were intense and destructive. I myself was personally affected by Hurricane Irma, and know people that are still recovering from all of them even here in October 2017, months later. I have friends and family that lived to tell tales of what they experienced this year. But would it have made the media if they were Category 1 storms that just brought a little rain? Or if it stayed out in the ocean for fish food? We will talk about Hurricane Jose because he was all confused and wandered around for a week trying to figure out what to do. And that brings up another topic which I want to defer to another post – the science behind storms. Why they form and why they take the paths they do? What influences intensity, size and movement? There is science still used to predict and determine the tracks.

So back to the question on this post… Are storms, in this post specifically Atlantic basin hurricanes, becoming worse? I think it is a matter of the data reviewed and how it is measured.


Eric S. Blake, Christopher W. Landsea, and Ethan J. Gibney –  NWS NHC 6 (PDF): The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones From 1851 to 2010 (and other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts) – Updated August, 2011.  <>

Chris Dolce and Jonathan Erdman – For First Time Since 2005, Four Hurricanes Make U.S. Landfalls in One Season Posted Oct 8 2017 08:15 AM EDT <>

Nick Wiltgen – Strongest Hurricanes: 10 Most Intense Atlantic Hurricanes on Record posted Apr 7 2014 06:45 PM EDT  <>

25 Years Ago…

25 years ago, Floridians were waking up to the destruction of a monster. Hurricane Andrew, the first storm of the 1992 Hurricane Season, slammed into South Florida like a freight train loaded with explosives. For many of Generation X, we had never experienced anything quite destructive. Our grandparents had the Labor Day storm of 1935, our parents had stories of Camile and Donna, we now had the story of Andrew.

Andrew started as most of our storms do as a tropical wave coming off the coast Africa. It was the first storm of the year – it was the middle of August! Let’s be honest, when they are THAT far out, we just watch them but overall, pay little attention to them. So many factors have to be just right for it to catch our attention. As the wave crossed the Atlantic, all the factors fell into place – warm waters, low wind shear, and the perfect environment for tropical cyclone development. By August 23rd, 1992, Andrew was a Category 4 slamming into the Bahamas. That was enough for Florida to have already started evacuations of South Florida, from West Palm Beach to Key West. Evacuations were made with about 36 hour notice of the hurricane coming on shore. On a side note: have you driven from Homestead to Key West? It’s a 2 lane highway most of that stretch. Imagine trying to evacuate all the residents and tourists out of there ahead of this storm. I couldn’t even begun to imagine the nightmare of being stuck in that! Interstate 95 is bad enough during the middle of the day on the East Coast, throw in everyone leaving from Key West north – yikes!

Ed Rappaport with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida has written an amazing piece discussing Hurricane Andrew discussing primarily the meteorological piece of the storm.

Based on what we know now and the technology we have now, I don’t know if damage would have been the same. We have learned a lot from Hurricane Andrew and if anything, that needs to be what we take from it. Twenty years later, there were several articles that discussed what we learned from this monster. The Tampa Bay Times discussed how the federal government, FEMA in particular, did not rush in to help the residents. The New York Times wrote this regarding the breakdown in communication between government agencies. Many had just lost their home, if not everything they owned, but yet had nowhere to turn to. One interesting note is the public warning and awareness was something that South Floridians were good at all. Well, umm, yea, I would expect they would be. Building codes had to change and the flattening of entire subdivisions were the proof. I would say that was maybe the most prominent take away – the building codes! There is a reason the little pig built his house out of bricks. The straw and wood house did not and will not hold up to wind. Can we be honest here? Why would anyone build a house in hurricane land made of either? Another prominent lesson was if there is no infrastructure left – we can’t get there! This is where each individual preparing for longer than 72 hours came from. Some of these residents could not get aid to them because the way to their place was such a mess.

While we start each hurricane preparing for the worse of the worst, we pray that we won’t see anything worse than a thunderstorm. As Floridians, we learned to prepare in the likelihood that another Andrew will pay us a visit. My generation learned as our parents and grandparents learned how to survive a major hurricane. While Andrew was not the last major hurricane to come through Florida, he very well may be one of the ones we talk about for generations.

Lost Down Rabbit Holes

Have you started researching only to find yourself down rabbit holes of nonsense? Or there is so much information out there it is hard to find what you are looking for? Or perhaps it’s because as you begin to look at one thing, another thing pops up that needs your attention? Or maybe because is an issue to begin with and distractions become so plentiful? Whatever it may be…. President Trump has kept us all so busy trying to figure out what the agenda is. I began the summer wanting to look at the Executive Orders he has been signing regarding environmental issues. However, shortly after that, the news of the Paris Agreement happened and then it’s just been news story after news story. It just seems like every day is news story heaven and it’s so distracting.

Then I started thinking… maybe that’s the current politic game. Is that the public should be so distracted that we are not paying attention to the important things that are happening? And then I think – well, what are the important things happening? Politically, we are debating if there was interference by Russia on the elections. We are debating what to do with healthcare. Should transgenders serve in the military? How should the tax code be handled? What should we do about historical monuments? These are some big issues that effect different parts of the American population.

So where do we go with so many distractions and so many rabbit holes? Well, I think we take an issue at a time and look at it objectively from multiple views. We really have to be open minded and not driven by profit. Information gathering and research needs to be done with the objective of finding the truth. And sometimes the truth and what we are led to believe can be different, sometimes even wrong. We need to be able to face that if it happens. We need to be able to analyze it and face it head on even if it challenges our belief system.

With that said, this blog will stay focused on environment issues but we may need to explore other relevant issues too. The environment is so intertwined with all aspects of our lives from the economy to manufacturing to sustainability. To look at some topics such as pipelines, we need to look at the oil industry and the economy since they are tied together. Since people use natural gas, we should look at the energy provided by pipelines. One topic but is spiderwebs to many other areas. Will we solve the world’s problems? Probably not but we can begin a discussion about them.

Is the world ending?

I know this page has been quite quiet these past few months. This semester kicked my booty with full time work, family time and then a full course load. A lot has happened in the last few months, hasn’t it? Here in the states we have a new President and the science community has lost their mind. With the little bit of coverage I have been able to catch, it looks like I need to read some Executive Orders and sort them out before commenting on them. Honestly, I am not sure if the freak out is necessary. If the science is settled and climate change is beyond human control, then why the freak out? Isn’t science based on constantly asking why and looking for why things happen? Maybe this is a change in the science community? Is the science community under the belief that we prove the solution of a problem to be true for all time? Is that how we advance in our world, by staying stagnant? I would think the answer is no.

With a new President, there is often an uneasy moment where the citizens of a country wonder what they actually elected into office. I think we are still in this period. President Trump ran on some big topics and ideas that he is trying to implement because he feels it will make America great again. Doesn’t every President do that when they take office? I would imagine the answer is yes. Since this is the case, let’s all look at the actions that are being taken and look at the facts. This is something I will attempt to tackle over the next few months. Let’s look at a few of the more controversial environmental Executive Orders and dig deep into them to look at the facts without an agenda. Ok, well, maybe an agenda to find the truth and to understand why they are needed, what they actually do and the fear of what people think they do.

If you want to start with a particular Executive Order, please comment. We will go in order of comment. If no one comments, then we move in a chronological order with the first one signed.

Sahara snow day 2016

It has been reported that there was snow on the ground in the Sahara Desert, Africa’s largest desert, on December 19, 2016. From the small to the large media outlets have reported have this snowfall, NASA and Snopes have information to confirm that this did indeed happen. What fascinates me about this story is the understory and the little science data about this occurrence. Yes, it gets cold in the desert and it has apparently snowed in this region once before 37 years ago. Only one other time 37 years ago? This is a part of the world that has been inhabited for thousands of years and it’s only snowed twice?

Here is the part that troubles me the most with this news story – it is being sold as if this phenomenon is so rare that it should not have had happened. Even is on the bandwagon of how this is only the second time in “living memory” – what the hell does that mean? Ok, there are not many people who live in the Sahara, I get it but there is no written history of Sahara Desert travels? How long have people lived in Africa? Isn’t that the area of the world that man began life? Perhaps I have been told the wrong history but let’s take a look at this.

Maybe we should start looking at the geography with this one. Ain Sefra is a city located in Algeria in northern Africa near the border of Morocco. If we look at the United States, this is approximately where Savannah, Georgia is located. Does it snow in Savannah? Sometimes. Do they get cold in the Winter? So logically we could expect Ain Sefra to have a similar climate, right? So why would it seem to unusual for an area at this latitude to receive snow at least some years?  Think about how often the southeast United States receives snow, ice or freezing rain? It happens, right?

That got me to thinking, how long has civilization been in the Sahara Desert? I know that we can date civilization thousands of years in places like Egypt but how about the desert? I will be honest, I didn’t do extensive research on this because I want to table it for later when I have time to dive into deeply but I found an interesting fact. Archaeologist David Mattingly who studies the Garamantes culture has found that their culture dates back to 1000 BCE. He has used satellite images in his studies to learn that the Garamantes began building farmland around oases in southern Libya. If this is the case, would they not have kept track of the conditions of the growing seasons? Perhaps it was not written history but it would have been past generation to generation, right?

Let’s revisit how this was phrased in many of these articles? Accuweather states it’s “only the second time in living memory that snow has fallen in the desert.” This is important wording because words matter. People gain their knowledge from multiple sources and I would argue that most is from the Internet. I would also argue that the information on the Internet is between factual to bias. This is why words matter. It leads the reader to believe that this is something very rare in the region.How many readers will do any research to see if this is in fact very rare? How many readers will take this for fact and spread it as such? Words matter and spreading the truth matters. Our world is so caught up in who can be first to report that it often only provides half truths and part facts. We live in a hashtag, 140 character world where the reader only providers a limited amount of information to the reader. Readers want the quick version so they can move along to the next item. Some will only read a headline but never the body of the email. The author can manipulate readers to believe anything with the right headline. (We can explore this later.) Who benefits from this? No one.

To wrap it up, it snows in the Sahara Desert and it has in the past. How often? That, well, that in itself is part of the mystery since we have little information about this area because of a small population. Before an event is reported as rare or may support the climate change agenda, perhaps there should be research conducted.


“Rare snow in the African desert” NASA Accessed 12/23/2016

“Snowfall in the Sahara” Snopes. Accessed 12/23/2016

Byrne, Kevin. “Weekly wrap-up: Snow covers Sahara Desert for 2nd time in recorded history; Extreme warmth hits North Pole” Accuweather. Accessed 12/23/2016

Wade, Lizzette. ” Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations  in unlikely places”  Science Mag Acessed 12/23/2016

Polar vortex – new phenomenon?

So with the recent dip in temperatures for most of the continental United States, it got me to thinking about a few things. This post will focus on the Polar Vortex though. So has the Polar Vortex never occurred before or is it a recent thing? I am from Florida so we are essentially immune from the Arctic cold that hits the Midwest every single winter. I remember it being bitterly cold in the north when I was a kid. So why is the bitter cold so surprising?

Last week, there was such an air mass that moved in from the Arctic that froze almost the entire United States. In 2014, there were several polar air masses that came through the United States causing all kinds of winter nightmares for travel, freezes and cold weather that many had not seen for a long time. So does that mean it is a new phenomenon? Just because we experienced in our lifetime, does that mean it didn’t happen before? Doing a little research, you would find that there have been record lows before in the United States, some as far  back as the late 1880s. How can that be? The climate has only been changing the last 30 years, right? The oldest record was set at Mount Washington in New Hampshire in 1885. Who would have thought that a mountain in New Hampshire would have been cold before? That seems like such a crazy idea – high altitude and high latitude with a low sun angle, why would anyone think that would equate to snow and cold records? Why, yes, that is a bit of sarcasm! Let’s use some common sense when it comes to the weather in the winter months. If you live north of say, Florida, and it’s between October and April, you will have a chance of cold, maybe even bitter cold, sprinkled with ice, snow and sleet along with freezing rain. Let’s not act like this is not possible. Shoot, even South Florida had snow in 1977!


Sun-Sentinel – Accessed 12/20/16

The Weather Channel – Accessed 12/20/16





Volcano connection

Below is a paper I wrote over the summer regarding the volcano connection and weather phenomenon. Our paper was to speak about a weather related topic for a meteorology class. I chose this topic because we are lead to believe that only humans effect climate change. Well, what about before humans walked the earth? There were natural events that occurred causing all sorts of weather phenomenon from colors in the sky to a change in the atmosphere. This paper only scratches the surface.

Volcanic Ash influence on the Atmosphere

Have you ever wondered if the weather is affected when a large volcano erupts? What happens to the ash that enters the atmosphere? Over Earth’s history, there have been numerous large volcanic eruptions that have shaped the climate with the ash they have ejected. Examples include Laki in Iceland, Tambora in Indonesia, Krakatau in Sumatra, and Pinatubo in the Philippines. The ash ejected from these eruptions had effects on the local climate and often the worldwide climate. Volcanoes erupt due to the increase pressure of magma and have two main ways of releasing this pressure – effusive and explosive (Self 20173).  This paper will look at explosive eruptions that eject their magma vertically from the volcano. This paper will show the direct link between volcanic ash and weather phenomenon.

  1. Volcano Basics

Scientists measure the size of the eruption by the amount of magma that is released during an eruption using the volcanic explosivity index (VEI). VEI measures the volume ejected during the eruption, height of the column, produced qualitative description such as effusive or cataclysmic, height of spreading of the eruptive plume head. (Savino 23).  Supervolcanic eruptions, such as Yellowstone and Toba, yield in excess of 450 cubic kilometers of magma that is ejected by the volcano (Self 2074). These eruptions are often colossal and catastrophic along with affected the globe (Savino 29). In comparison, large volcanic eruptions can produced many tens of cubic kilometers of magma during an eruption. Recent historic large volcanic eruptions include Tambora in 1815 and Krakatoa in 1883 (Self 2074). While these were not super eruptions, these large eruptions would produce columns that would extend through the troposphere and into the stratosphere (Self 2082).  Tambora was the largest ever recorded eruption with an estimated 150 cubic kilometers of magma (Cao et al 588).

  1. What is in a volcanic eruption?

Volcanic ash consists of rock and small volcanic glass fragments (Savino 29). There is a high concentration of silica in volcanic ash would increase the surface albedo of the volcanic ash (Jones et al 555).  Volcanoes release gases into the atmosphere such as water vapor, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen halides and carbon dioxide (USGS).  The most abundant gases during an eruption include water vapor and carbon dioxide (Self 2083). An explosive eruption will supply a continuing source of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (Lamb 426). Climatic effects from the extra carbon dioxide would be expected but it shows to be too small to influence the absorption of terrestrial radiation (Lamb 426). After decades of studying volcanic ash and climate effects, the more important compound may be sulfur. Sulfur appears to be held in the stratosphere and become part of the volcanic dust veil (Lamb 426) that can enter the earth’s atmosphere.

  1. Climatic Effects

Volcanoes also belch out volcanic ash particles which can be large rocks or fine dust particles (Lamb 427). The scientific community had begun to explore if volcanic ash affected the climate from the early twentieth century (Haarp). Scientists have been able to determine that ash fallout and particles enter the stratosphere and create a volcanic dust veil (Cao et al 591 -592, Lamb 426). Self (2083) stated the effects of the gas release and aerosols could be more important than ash fallout from eruptions. Research has been conducted if sulfuric acid aerosols effect solar radiation (Haarp).  Acidic particles are smaller than water droplets and many particles reflect more solar radiation (Cao et al 592). Sulfur dioxide can become oxidized to become sulfuric acid (Bouon 12223). Sulfuric acid is more effective at scattering sunlight which causes a net cooling of the Earth’s surface (Soden 727). Self (2087) best describes how sulfuric acid affects global cooling. Partly frozen sulfuric acid particles located in the lower stratospheric altitudes have the most efficient particle size to backscatter and absorb incoming solar radiation (Self 2087). As a result, a net cooling effect would occur (Self 2087). Jones et al concluded in their research that the volcanic ash blanket could influence the climate up to 10 or even 50 years after the eruption occurred (562).

  1. Atmospheric Effects

For centuries, there have been observations of the effects from volcanoes including colder temperatures and beautiful sunsets/sunrises (Lamb 431).  Volcanic ash is injected into the troposphere and travels through the prevailing zonal winds around the planet.  Where particles are first injected in the winds, they can travel rapidly in the latitude winds and then meander in the westerlies or easterlies to other latitudes (Lamb 447). Dust can also be moved through the vertical circulation of the atmosphere and likely the dust is in multiple layers (Lamb 442). As the dust climbs to the 30° to 90° latitudes North and South, a veil is created that can be dense enough to affect the radiation balance in either hemisphere. The location of the volcano may also affect how the ash is distributed in the winds. Eruptions at the equator would create a worldwide dust veil (Lamb 442). For example, Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption had gas and aerosols enter the atmosphere in both hemispheres (Self 2088). The aerosol cloud from the eruption encircled the globe in less than 2 weeks and covered much of the global atmosphere within 3 months (Self 2088). The cloud reached the poles by the end of 1991 (Self 2088).

  1. Global Cooling

When Benjamin Franklin was stationed in Paris in 1784, he observed both Europe and the United States climates were abnormally cold (Harpp In 1783, Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted and produced about 14 cubic kilometers of basalt (Harpp The ash cloud may have reached the stratosphere causing the cooling effect felt throughout the Northern Hemisphere (Harpp  Tambora’s eruption played a major role in the global cooling of 1816 (Cao et al 594). Interestingly, 1816 was not the coldest year statistically but could have exacerbated cooling trend happening at the time – Little Ice Age (Cao et al 594). In the northern hemisphere, the average mean temperature was 1 degree Celsius cooler (Lamb 463) which made the cooling more of a regional event than global (Cao 594). For 2 years after Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption, the global temperature had dropped 0.5 degrees Celsius below normal (Self 2088). This cooling was observed on satellite data and confirmed the decrease in solar heating (Soden et al 727).

  1. Optical phenomenon

After volcanic eruptions, there are often reports of unusual atmospheric phenomenon.  With ash entering the troposphere, the winds carry the sulfuric gases around the globe and all latitudes (Stothers 1194). Due to the photochemical reaction between sulfur gases, stratospheric ozone and water vapor, brilliant sunsets with colors of orange, red and purples are seen (Stothers 1194).  After both the Krakatau and Laki eruptions, there were observations of the sky appearing to be dirty from the volcanic ash and the sun was not as bright (Lamb 433). In 1815, after eruption of Mt. Tambora, stunning sunsets were seen as far away as London, England (Stothers 1194). The northeastern United States in the spring and summer of 1816, there was a persistent “dry fog” (Stothers 1194). Reverend S.E. Bishop in Honolulu, Hawaii after the 1883 Krakatau eruption observed an unusual corona around the sun (Lamb 431). This phenomenon known as “Bishop’s Ring” was names because of the white or bluish white illumination with an “occasional ring of pink, red, brown or orange-rose color at an angular distance of 20 degrees from the sun” (Lamb 431).

  1. Conclusion

When volcanoes erupt, there is much more that occurs than simply magma being ejected from the earth.  The ash and particulates enter the atmosphere and can having lasting effects on the local and global climates. As scientists are able to observe modern and occurring volcanoes, they can better assess what happens to the earth system before, during and after an eruption.  For example, sampling from the 1963 Bali eruption created the knowledge of particle size and its influence of the atmosphere (Lamb 430). Perhaps when we have enough knowledge regarding volcanic ash in the atmosphere, we can begin to predict the weather phenomenon we could experience after an eruption.

Works Cited

Boulon, Julien, Sellegri, Karine. Hervo, Maxime. Laj, Paulo. “Observations of Nucleation of New Particles in a Volcanic Plume.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Vol 108 No.30 (2011): 12223–26. PMC. Web. 6 July 2016.

Cao, Shuji, Li, Yushang and Yang, Bin. Mt. Tambora, climate changes and China’s decline in the Nineteenth Century” Journal of World History September 2012 Web. 26 June 2016.

Harpp, Karen. Scientific American “How do volcanoes affect world climate?” October 2, 2005 Web. Accessed 26 June 2016.

Jones, Morgan T., R. Stephen J. Sparks, Paul J. Valdes. “The climatic impact of supervolcanic ash blankets” Climate Dynamics (2007) 29:553–64 Web. 26 June 2016.

Lamb, H.H. “Volcanic Dust in the Atmosphere: with a Chronology and Assessment of Its Meteorological Significance.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 266, No. 1178 (Jul. 2, 1970), pp. 425-533 Web. 26 June 2016.

Savino, John, and Marie D. Jones. Supervolcano: The Catastrophic Event That Changed the Course of Human History (could Yellowstone Be Next?). Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page, 2007.

Self, S. “The Effects and Consequences of very large explosive volcanic eruptions” Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 15 August 2006, Vol.364 (1845), pp.2073-2097 Web. 26 June 2016.

Soden, Brian et al “Global Cooling after the Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo: A Test of Climate Feedback by Water Vapor” Science Vol 296 26 April 2002 p 727 -730 Web. 26 June 2016.

USGS Volcano Hazards Program. Accessed 7/3/16

Sea Level Rising?

So for those you that are not aware… I went back to school this year to attempt to enter the environment field, which I got my degree in almost 20 years ago. This summer, I have had Geology and Meteorology to fill some prerequisites. This week the topic seems to be sea level rising. Reading the articles and a testimony, I am not sure I buy into this sea level rising is an issue issue. Why? I live in  Florida. Do you know how many people live on the coast line here in Florida? A lot! Why do we allow building on the coast? I guess for that matter, why do we allow anyone to build on the cliffs in California? Different issue, another post for that one.

Let’s examine this from a common sense, not even pulling data point of view, shall we? Florida is a peninsula, right? Surrounded by water on 3 sides. We all know there is beach erosion happening. Why is that? Because the water moves the sand. It’s actually a natural cycle and science blah, blah blah but that’s not the point right now. What is important is erosion on beaches happens. Water has a lot of energy and can move buildings if it needed to. So why allow residents, companies or organizations to build on a naturally moving land mass? You know why? It’s economic. Truly. Florida is known for its white sandy beaches. If we stopped building, what would happen? Well, first the buildings would not go away unless they were demolished which would be just stupid. We could still visit the beach and enjoy the current buildings, even maintain the current buildings but just not build new ones.

One of the examples that was talked about this week was Miami (you could throw in any Florida coastal city for this though). Miami now has more flooding issues with the astronomical tides, particularly at the beach. Let’s think about this for one moment… anyone know what Miami was before there was development. I will give you a moment (queue the Jeopardy music)…. It was a freaking swamp! It was a drainage basin for the Everglades. Does everyone remember what the Everglades are suppose to be? It’s a swamp! Just in case, anyone forgot… Florida is basically a swamp in south Florida. Why anyone would have wanted to come live here in the first place is beyond me? But hey, I am happy to sweat all summer than to be buried under a 100 feet of snow.

So let’s think about it… if land was a swamp and you build on it what will happen to the rain runoff? Won’t it try to go through the natural depressions and attempt to flow where it belongs in the first place? Is it really the fault of the rain or the tides that it drains or washes into the roads or buildings that man made?

This is my main issue with climate change, global warming, global cooling, environment over the human life, whatever you want to call it… The Earth is over 4 billion years old. Humans have been here on this planet for such a small fraction of that time. Why can’t it be the planet is trying to compensate for human activity? How about humans live in harmony with the planet? Now before you think I am going all “treehugger” on you… the planet will be here long after humans are extinct. Our job is to be guardians of this planet and to live in harmony with it. It’s not a matter of cutting emissions from power plants or cars or going all solar power or modifying food or whatever… It’s a matter of respecting the planet and understanding we all play a role in keeping it healthy.

Here’s the other problem… We have countries that are in various levels of development. Who are we to tell countries that don’t even have plumbing what they should do or not do? Why can’t we bring our best practices to them to help them develop into successful countries? Why can’t we all work together? You know why? Because it’s just like people… some will follow the rules and some won’t. We can only pray that each country will understand the important role they play in the health of Earth.

Ok, so back to sea level rise… could it be possible, just maybe a little, that the reason the sea level is rising is because we are building closer to it? Could it be that people want to be so close to the sea that they don’t realize how idiotic it is to build on sand? If you build on a swamp, you will have flooding when there is a good rain storm. Lord forbid if a powerful hurricane comes through the area… it will be wiped out. It has happened so many times over and over and over again. If you build at or below sea level, there is a strong possibility that flooding will be an issue. End of story, no need to cause mass panic around the globe. How about we just all use our brains and not build in the ocean?

Wisdom – Do we have it anymore?

My family and I have been reading Proverbs, a chapter a day. Today’s chapter was about wisdom. It got me to thinking – are we wise anymore? Do we use the knowledge of our elders to enhance our lives? How do we gain the information we know now? Are we gaining it from our elders or trusting the internet or “experts” in a field?

I grew up in a rural area where we went to “town” about once a month for groceries and farm supplies. We used the land and what it gave us and we learned how to be frugal with what we had. We recycled, reused and re-purposed almost everything we could and even composted before I even knew that was what composting was. Are we teaching these skills to the next generation? I think of my own family. We live in a suburban area where we can “not worry” about the water because it will flow freely from the tap, we can turn on lights and only worry about the cost, and go to the store any time we need something. Sure, we are mindful how we use our resource but are we really? Is that how “real America” is too? They know we need to be mindful of our resources but really they are not. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to take a hot shower when I am not feeling well or being able to just run up to the store for milk or eggs or whatever but… is it cost effective? should we be so focused on the effects of the environment as we are our budgets? Has anyone noticed how much the cost of eating has gone up? But has it? Yesterday, we went to to pick up eggs and I swear they dropped like fifty cents since I picked them a few weeks ago. That’s a huge savings but was it because of Mother’s Day or because there is an abundance of eggs?

What does this have to do with wisdom and the environment? Have you ever thought global warming could be a scam? Does it really feel like the earth is getting warmer? or how about colder? or how about the storms are worse than ever? or the weather patterns are more chaotic? How do humans impact the weather? Why do they? Where does the data come from and who sees it before bringing it to the public? Why do we all need to drive hybrid cars or electric cars? Why should my electric bill go up because there are now more taxes to regulate carbon? Is the earth really overpopulated? Why must I follow rules that the rule makers are not following?

I know! Lots of loaded questions…but maybe that needs to be the basis of this blog to ask questions and to find answers – not the “made for TV” answers but the “you can’t handle the truth” answers. Are we going to be able to find those answers? I don’t know but I think we should start digging and see what we find. Please comment below on issues you would like more information on, we will slowly open them up like a Christmas present and then dissect them like a frog in 7th grade science.

Overton Window?

It’s three days after Earth Day. What have you done to make the earth a better place? Did you install water saving faucets? Start a recycle bin? Start a compost bin? Plant a garden? Or did you just chalk it up to another day on the calendar and move on? I would imagine a lot of people did the latter and have forgotten about Earth Day and why it was started.

On April 22, 1970, millions of American protested the decline in the environment. It was a political movement that was bringing opposite viewpoints together in an effort to clean up America. While it may have started as an awareness, it has become almost a new religion among many.

Almost 50 years later and we are still struggling with cleaning up the earth. Do we value the planet any longer? Do we teach other sustainable methods of being a decent human being? If we cared about each other, I would argue we would begin to do the right thing for each other and the planet would follow. Sure, there is science saying the earth is warming and we must stop burning fossil fuels and the oceans are belching out methane and the carbon sinks are being destroyed. The earth temperature will reach levels never seen before. But is that really happening? Is the science correct or are we looking through an Overton Window?