Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle Over Global Warming

Today, bloggers all over unite to raise awareness of enviornmental issues. It’s a great cause and I was pleased to sign up, especially since I had what appeared to be the perfect book to feature for the event.

Even though I have not lived in New Orleans in more than 20 years, I still consider myself in some essential way to be a New Orleanian. I have previously posted about two books by Mike Tidwell related to climate change and in particular the warming of ocean temperatures, resulting a rising of sea level, destroying marshes and barrier islands, and leaving our coastal cities highly vulnerable.

In Bayou Farewell Tidwell did a detailed social history of the peoples of Louisiana’s vanishing coast (rising sea levels cause Louisiana to lose marsh and other wetlands at a rate of about fifty acres per day) and chronicled how their way of life, like their land is literally washing away. A few years later when Katrina hit, Tidwell’s 2003 book would seem to have been prophetic. In 2006 Tidwell wrote a second book, Ravaging Tide which makes a strong case for global warming and a strident prescription of changes for each and every one of us to make to counter the effects of global warming. As I mentioned in my review, Tidwell crossed the line in that book from reporting to advocating and the book was much weaker for it. In both of those previous books however, the science, explained in layman’s terms serves as the backdrop for the human story of people effected by the science. Somehow I had expected Storm World to be more of the same.

It wasn’t. Subtitled Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle Over Global Warming, I had expected that we would hear about global warming and its impact on mainstream politics. The politics referred to in Mooney’s title, however, is of a much narrower variety, practiced among two competing professional meteorological organizations. In the introduction, Mooney explains that he is basically a New Orleans science reporter who got sucked into the global warming question by intense personal interest following hurricane Katrina. And after 300 pages or so of wading through dense scientific arguments between warring weather scientists (much of which just went Way over my head) he basically concludes that global warming can not be proved as the cause of the more frequent and severe hurricanes we have seen recently but nonetheless we need to make changes to prepare for dealing with more frequent and stronger hurricanes.
Not Recommended, unless you are a climate scientist in which case, please read it and explain it to me.

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