If you cannot Beat it, live with it

A wind travelling at 185 miles an hour (about 300kph) is a very strong wind indeed. Humans do not build settlements where such winds are even a remote a possibility, or so we thought until Hurricane Dorian devastated the North Bahamas. Thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged severely. Only seven people have died, thanks to the ability of humans to predict the impact of Hurricane Dorian and the efforts of the local government to warn and prepare people for this apocalypse.

Hurricanes start when there is warm water (around and above 28 Celsius) and warm air.

Warm air from the ocean surface begins to rise rapidly. The air is naturally moist, coming from the ocean. When the warm air meets cooler air as it rises the warm moist air condenses and forms storm clouds and drops of rain. The condensation releases heat, which warms the cool air above the warm air, causing it to rise to bring more warm, moist air from the ocean .

The warm, moist air is drawn into a developing storm and more heat is transferred from the surface of the ocean to the atmosphere. This continuing heat exchange creates a wind pattern that spirals violently around a relatively calm center and so a hurricane is born.

The important word in this explanation is “warm”. The air is warmed, the oceans are warmed and this begets hurricanes.

Hurricanes have always been with those who live where the air is warmed and the sea is warmed but in the last century or more the sea has been warming and so has the air more than usual because the heat that the planet naturally receives cannot escape or dissipate into space as it had done for centuries because now the earth has a blanket of insulation, made up of an increasing thick layer carbon dioxide, deposited by kind permission of humanity and its activities.

I do not blame global warming for the creation of Hurricane Dorian – that would be a far too simplistic approach, but I do blame human activities for making hurricanes like Dorian (the most violent in recorded history in the Bahamas) more likely.

It is probably too late to reverse global warming or do much about climate change except to possibly try to slow it down. Humanity, it is clear to me, does not have the appetite to do what must be done to reverse or slow down climate change. It will probably have the appetite to build better and stronger protection against extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding. If you can’t beat it, live with it.

Flood Insurance – Who should Pay?

Insurance is, as Orwell called it, a swindle, but at least it is a logical swindle. Insurance rates are calculated on the industry’s view of statistics; the uplift and margin applied to those statistics are the tools of the swindle, but the fundamental premium you pay depends on the figures. If you wish to insure your life you age and the statistical analysis of your longevity will be relevant and if you want to insure your home against losses suffered by flooding then the likelihood of flooding in the place where your home is situate is part of the figuring which sets the price that you pay. If the insurance company, when looking at the statistics tells you that it will not insure your home at any price, then you know that flooding is not merely possible but highly probable. Continue reading

Flooding in Bangkok

Once again unprecedented flooding is affecting another part of the world. The Prime Minister of Thailand, Ms Yingluck Shinawatra, has warned that the capital city, Bangkok, could be soon covered with water one and a half deep. October is at the very end of the rainy season in Bangkok, which has a tropical wet and dry climate. The City is home to more than nine million people and while most of it is dry at present parts of the surrounding countryside have been under two or three metres of water for three months. Continue reading

A little good news for a change

It is not always possible to report good environmental news; little of it exists. Environmentalists of needs must be moaners and doom and gloom merchants trying tp prevent people from dealing in the destruction of what we all need to enjoy life. Continue reading

A Sign of the Times

Hurricane Irene changed, as hurricanes do, into Tropical Storm Irene.  It started in the Leeward Islands, passed through the Eastern part of the United States and ended up in Canada, moving at speeds from eighty miles an hour to fifty miles a hour. Get used to hurricanes and storms becoming more frequent; they are a sign of the times. Continue reading

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water…

A year ago most of us were concerned by the 4.9 million barrels (205.8 million gallons) of oil spillage in the Gulf of México. Today there is little news on the spillage. The Gulf has absorbed much of the oil, much of it has been dispersed by chemicals and much cleaned up from the sea shore. It seems some of the marine life is safe and prospering; although in certain cases there has been irremediable damage to the environment. Continue reading

Do we really need the Great Barrier Reef?

It is really a collection of many coral reefs almost joined together and extending from north to south in a thin strip off the east coast of Australia. It is lovely to look at, if you scuba dive, snorkel or take a boat, contains many interesting animals and is a good tourist puller. But do we really need it. Continue reading